SOUTHPORT, England – At 47 years young, Ernie Els has no illusions of where he fits into the modern landscape.
“You stand on the range there, you see that TrackMan, guys are hitting it 320 [yards]. I'm hitting it 280, and they're hitting it 320,” he said following a second-round 68 at The Open. “But the golf course equalizes everybody. You can't be hitting 320 drives each and every hole. So you don't have to play perfect golf around here.”
Els wasn’t perfect on Day 1 at Royal Birkdale, but he was gritty enough to find himself in the championship that defies the generational gap.
Despite bogeys to close each nine Els is tied for 10th place, just three shots off the pace and poised to make his 19th cut in 23 starts at The Open.
Els’ start is a rare bright spot during what has largely been a difficult year for the South African, who has missed more cuts (nine) than he’s made on the PGA Tour (six) and is in danger of missing the postseason for the third consecutive year.
It turns out links golf may have been the boost Els needed to get his year back on track.
“I enjoy this course. It plays a little bit like Lytham,” said Els, who won the second of his two Open titles at Royal Lytham in 2012. “There's a lot of iron shots that you have to play. You have to keep it between the bunkers, very much like Lytham. And I feel you get fairer bounces around here. So you can be a little bit aggressive here and there. And it's kind of soft, which Lytham was.”