Els gets boost of confidence with strong finish at API

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ORLANDO, Fla. – As good as Ernie Els’ 67 on Friday appears to the casual observer, the South African will tell you it was his even-par 72 on Saturday that salvaged his week.

“At least I stuck to it for once and kind of grinded it out,” he said following a closing 68 on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “It was the round of the year for me yesterday. I could have shot 80 after that the way I’ve been going and today was solid.”

Els took a triple bogey-8 on the par-5 sixth hole on Saturday, a miscue complicated by a particularly poor lie just off the green.

On Sunday, Els was four strokes better on No. 6.

It was part of a three-birdie stretch that began at the fourth hole and lifted him to his best finish on the PGA Tour since last year’s Barclays. It was also perfect timing for a player preparing to play his 21st Masters next month.

“I needed this and a bit more. It’s why I had a nice full schedule this year,” said Els, who had missed four consecutive cuts to begin the season.