GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Reuters) - Former world number one Ernie Els needed a moment of magic with his putter to salvage one of the most unusual pars of his career at the Wyndham Championship on Friday.
Playing the par-four 10th hole during the second round at Sedgefield Country Club, Els hit his second shot into the back fringe, 37 feet from the cup.
He was above the hole and the lightning-fast green left him with little option but to hit his first putt almost 90 degrees left of the cup, in the hope it would eventually break sharply right and trickle down close to the hole.
Unfortunately for the big South African, he slightly misjudged the putt and his ball stayed in the fringe, stopping 26 feet above the hole.
It was a somewhat embarrassing misjudgement by the four-times major winner, but he more than made amends by trickling his equally fast second putt into the hole for an unlikely par.
“It was one of those deals where I had absolutely nothing (with the first putt),” Els told Reuters after carding a two-under-par 68.
“I had to go almost 90 degrees and I missed my little target by half a foot and then I was really stuffed. I was trying to lag (my second putt) and not make six and I hit a perfect putt in the hole.”
Even though Els used his putter twice at the 10th, statistically it will be recorded as a no-putt because the PGA Tour counts only putting strokes made from on the green.
Later, a rules official tried chipping a ball from the same spot where Els had hit his first putt, and was unable to stop the ball on the ultra-slick green.
Els made an equally important par putt at the last, albeit from less than four feet, to make the cut with nothing to spare.
He knew he needed to sink the putt to qualify for the final two rounds, and was hugely relieved to make it right on the number.
“I was grinding all day,” Els said after his 68 left him at one-under 139, a distant 10 strokes behind tournament leader Patrick Reed.
“I’m fighting a couple of things in my swing, trying to get my head around certain things. I’m going through a bit of a tough time so hopefully I have a good weekend.”
Els has recorded only one top-10 in 15 starts on the 2013 PGA Tour, a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open in June.
“That was a good battle to have and I made some putts under pressure,” he said of his efforts during the second round. “On these speedy greens, to make those putts makes you feel good.”
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes