Els makes run, still frustrated with putter
Ernie Els grinded around the Copperhead course in Saturday’s third round, shooting a 3-under 68 to move within three shots of co-leaders Jim Furyk and fellow South African Retief Goosen.
Grabbing a place on the leaderboard has been a struggle for the three-time major winner of late with only one top 10 (fourth at the Frys.com) since the beginning of 2011.
Much of his struggles have come on the greens. In 2010, when Els won twice in at three-week span - the WGC–CA Championship and at the Arnold Palmer Invitational - the South African was in the top 50 in four of the top seven putting categories, and in the top 100 in six of the top seven.
In 2011 and through 2012, Els has not cracked the top 100 in any of those seven putting categories. And his frustrations continued on Saturday, even after playing himself into contention.
“Just couldn't make a freaking putt,” Els said of his continued putting issues. “Made one 12‑footer all freaking day.”
Els made two putts over 10 feet - a 39-footer on the first and a 12 footer on the 13th - but 12 putts that he made on Saturday were two feet or less, showing how low Els could have gone.
“I had one good nine of putting yesterday,” Els said. “It was just the afternoon, and that was it. I'm 8‑under par. If I can get more of those kinds of nines going, I'll be 12, 14‑under par right now, but I can't get myself to think that.”
When Els tees it up tomorrow he has a realistic chance to break his winless streak that started almost two years ago at Bay Hill.
Els would also get a spot in the Masters, but that’s secondary right now as a win is all the Big Easy is thinking about.
“I just want to get my game back,” Els said. “If I play Augusta, great. If I don't, it's also fine. I can miss a year and I will be fine with that. I'll go on holiday with the kids or something like when I was a kid. Obviously I want to play, but really, I couldn't be bothered. I want to try and win and I want to get back to where I feel I need to be, and that'll take care of Augusta. That's that.”