Els nearly incurs bunker penalty at Scottish Open

Ernie Els during the Scottish Open.

Ernie Els during the Scottish Open.

INVERNESS, Scotland — Already embarrassed by taking four shots in a greenside bunker during the Scottish Open, Ernie Els nearly had his day become much worse when the South African was reported by an eagle-eyed TV viewer for a possible rules breach during the incident.

Els, a two-time U.S. Open champion, was confronted by senior referee Andy McFee after Els' opening round of 70 on Thursday and told that a viewer thought Els had grounded his club in the bunker. Footage was reviewed, but Els wasn’t penalized.

Els says he was “digging a grave” when he attempted to escape the hazard on No. 6.

A sanction would have left Els in disciplinary trouble for the second straight European Tour event, after he was reprimanded for an expletive-laced outburst at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

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