ORLANDO, Fla. – For the first time since last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship, Ernie Els survived a 36-hole cut on the PGA Tour, ending a streak that had become far too familiar.
“My friends were telling me what a great job I have not having to work weekends,” smiled Els after a second-round 67 on Friday left him tied for 11th place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Els credited his solid round at Bay Hill to an old driver he dug out of his garage, but it probably had more to do with a chance encounter with an old friend earlier this week.
“I was hitting balls on the far side of the range [at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando] on Tuesday and [Els] pulled up in a golf cart and said, ‘Hello, laddie,’” recalled Larry Rinker, a former Tour player who took over as director of instruction at the Ritz-Carlton three weeks ago.
Rinker and Els started talking about the South African’s putting, and Rinker suggested Els strengthen his grip with his left hand. Rinker also reminded him of well he has putted in his career.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle lately,” Els said. “It was nice to hear a fellow player compliment you a little bit.”
Els needed just 28 putts on Day 2 at Bay Hill, one more than he needed on Thursday.