Ernie finds putting mojo again

Ernie Els found his putting mojo again in the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, his nine-under-par 64 vaulting him 18 places up the leaderboard into a share of fourth behind leader Robert Garrigus.

He made nine birdies in a flawless round, his score bettered only by Garrigus’ 63 which included eight birdies and an eagle two on the 16th.

And it was his putting which clicked into gear after a spluttering first round of one-under 72: “At least I started holing some putts at the South African Open on ridiculously terrible greens,” he said.

“The greens were worse than these fairways. To shoot 25-under par on greens like that, you know, I thought that was quite nice. I’ve just got to do it on perfect greens like we have here.

“So I get a little tentative every now and again on the short ones and I’m trying to work myself through it, just trying to get comfortable on a certain technique. Yesterday my ball position was too far back in my putting stance and I was shoving them a little bit and I have to try and release the putter.

“So I just went back to get this feeling that I’m supposed to have I guess, and kind of worked today,” he said.

He was helped by finding himself pretty much on playing partner Rocco Mediate’s line on a number of occasions, and able to benefit from the read he got from Mediate’s putt.

“On 17, it’s funny, it was about the fifth putt that I was almost on the same line as Rocco, just inside his ball,” said Els. “He gave me quite a few nice reads today. When I made that putt, it was all over. You can imagine what Rocco said! I’m supposed to buy him beers right now.”

Tim Clark, the other South African in the event, also improved markedly in the second round, firing a five-under-par 68 to add to his opening 72 to move into a share of 16th, eight off the lead.

Els was four off Garrigus’ halfway pace in an event where he went 31-under to win in 2003, and was looking to regain that kind of form in the closing half of the tournament.

“It’s always special coming over here but it was really special to go 31-under par, chipping and putting and holing shots,” he said. “Yeah, I always like to get that feeling back. If I play like this for the next two rounds, maybe, you know, you get close to that score.”

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