Ernie Els proved to be human Thursday and the champion golfer that he is Friday.
A six-putt first hole Thursday left the four-time major winner and 19-time PGA Tour champion talking to himself during that first-hole meltdown and exasperated after the round of 80. On Friday, he rebounded with a back-nine 34, including several short birdie putts and shot 73. He missed the cut at 73-153, but salved some of his wounded pride.
Some of the younger players could learn a lesson on graciousness from the World Golf Hall of Famer.
“A bit of a tough start again,” he said. “I made a double on the first, missing a very short putt again. But kind of settled down and played OK and just a pity of yesterday, otherwise, I kind of would have been around for the weekend.
“Yesterday was just absolutely nightmarish. So even after the first hole I had a lot of opportunities to get myself back to near 2, 3, 4 over. But I didn’t do that. So, I was very disappointed.
“I would like to say I had a good time, I think that the Masters people and the Augusta National people have been excellent once again, and it’s just a pity I didn’t play my best.”
Els was asked his mood when he got to the course Friday.
“I was very down. Actually, I was not too bad last night and then I slept OK, actually. And then this morning I was feeling down, really down. I felt kind of embarrassed. I didn’t feel like myself. And it kind of showed again on the first hole, I missed another very short putt, and I’ve got to address whatever the issue is. …
“It was a very weird, surreal feeling this morning. It was like I walked onto the range and even the players and caddies, they kind of just looked at me as if I don’t have pants on or something. And so … really not a nice feeling.”
Hole of the day
No. 4 Flowering Crab Apple
Par 3, 240 yards
Avg.: 3.528 Birdies: 2
Pars: 42 Bogeys: 41
Doubles: 4 Other: 0
Comment: Rory McIlroy double-bogeyed the hole, his biggest mistake on an otherwise fine 1-under 71. Davis Love III and UGA’s Chris Kirk had the only birdies.
He said it
“This (wind) is something that we have never seen before, certainly not for three days. It makes it a battle from as soon as you step on the first tee until you are done, and it wears the players out.” — Golf Channel analyst David Duval
Jordan Spieth extended his Masters record of six consecutive rounds with the outright lead. Only Arnold Palmer (1960-61) had held or shared a lead for six consecutive rounds.
It’s likely to be another near-perfect afternoon with highs near 67, but wind out of the west-northwest at 15-25 mph.