- Last Updated: 10:06 AM, June 17, 2012
- Posted: 2:19 AM, June 17, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO — Let’s not count Ernie Els out of winning another major championship quite yet.
Els, a four-time major winner (two British Opens and two U.S. Opens), has quietly positioned himself to make a run at a third U.S. Open victory today at Olympic Club, where he turned in a sterling 2-under 68 yesterday.
His day was highlighted by a chip-in for eagle on the par-5 17th hole.
“I’m in a much better mood now than I was on the sixth tee,’’ said Els, who was 3-over par on his first five holes. “I was 3-‑over for the round, 7-‑over for the event. So to come back and play the last 12 holes in 5‑-under is quite amazing. Obviously, the shot on 17 is what dreams are made of, a shot like that in a U.S. Open. So I’m really pleased.’’
Els, who stands at 2-over-par and is three strokes behind co-leaders Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell, is hoping his vast U.S. Open experience, which includes his 1994 and 1997 wins, will help propel him to a third-time’s-a-charm win today.
“Experience helps around here,’’ Els said. “For some reason, I’m patient again this week and that’s been kind of my virtue in major championship golf, my ability to be patient and wait it out. You’re going to have to do that [today].
“I feel that my mental attitude this week has been quite good. I’ve had a couple of train wrecks out there.’’
But he has recovered.
Really, Els has been recovering all year. Though he hasn’t won in 2012, he has come close and has had some heartbreak, too.
Els missed a short putt at the Zurich in New Orleans to lose to Jason Dufner. He also tied for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and tied for fifth at the Transitions Championship.
A win today surely will make a lot of the hurt from the near-misses go away.
“If I’m within [three], that’s a great chance, I feel,’’ Els said. “I think if you get it into the red numbers, I think you’ll win this tournament. Somehow. I know it’s saying a lot at 2-‑over, but red numbers will win.’’
Another 68, which would get Els to even par, might be enough considering how rapidly he moved up the board yesterday.
“Wow, moving day in the U.S. Open, if you shoot even par you’re moving,’’ he said. “In a regular event you got to shoot 7 or 8‑-under par on a Saturday. So it’s all relative. Obviously, if you shoot even par in a U.S. Open you’re going to do OK.’’