Golf: Els' mastery of rain has rivals floundering

THE HOME favourite, Ernie Els, built a two shot-lead over the Scot Colin Montgomerie to take into today's third round of the Million Dollar Challenge in South Africa. Els, with an 11-under-par total of 133 after two rounds, is bidding to win the annual invitational event for the first time in eight attempts.

The South African, nicknamed "The Big Easy" because of his languid swing and laid-back nature, hit six birdies for a round of 66 yesterday on greens made difficult by the heavy rains that swept down on the Country Club course designed by Gary Player. He also remains the only player in the elite 12-man field not to have dropped a shot.

"I'm very pleased with the way things are going," said a typically relaxed Els, ranked No 5 in the world. "It was a very tough day out there. It started raining on the third tee and it's still raining. I thought they would postpone the round because the bunkers were unplayable. But this golf course can handle the rain."

Montgomerie, on nine under, is three shots clear of joint-third placed Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood. Garcia, one under after the first round, surged up the leaderboard with five birdies over the first five holes of the second round, and was one stroke from the lead before spoiling a brilliant round by dropping two shots at the last.

The Spanish teenager slapped a bunker shot into the water on the 18th and finished with a double bogey after missing a shortish putt.

"I don't like the greens when they are soft. For me I find it's impossible to play. What happened on the 18th, that bunker was terrible. It's pretty sad," he said. Garcia was also highly critical of the organisers' decision to allow the second day's play to continue in the appalling weather. "They should have cancelled the round after six holes." he said. "The bunkers were like swimming pools."

Though Garcia was unhappy that play was not postponed, Els had no such reservations about these conditions: "When Sergio won in Germany earlier this year, I thought it was raining hard enough to be unplayable."

The overnight leader Paul Lawrie had a miserable day, hitting as many bogeys as Els had birdies, and slipped down the leaderboard to three under, eight shots off the pace, after a round of 76.

Defending champion Nick Price dropped two shots but, ever the wily campaigner on a course where he has won three Million Dollar events, remains a threat, seven shots behind the leader with two rounds to play.

The rest of the field kept heads under umbrellas and tried to make the best of a bad job, hoping the leaders would not get too far out of sight. The best of the rest was Ireland's Darren Clarke, who gritted his way to a 69, eight off the pace.

MILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE (Gary Player Country Club, Sun City) Second round scores: 133 E Els (SA) 67 66. 135 C Montgomerie (GB) 66 69. 138 S Garcia (Sp) 71 67; L Westwood (GB) 68 70. 140 N Price (Zim) 68 72. 141 D Clarke (GB) 72 69; J Furyk (US) 70 71; P Lawrie (GB) 65 76. 142 C Franco (Par) 70 72. 143 J M Olazabal (Sp) 69 74; J Huston (US) 67 76. 148 M A Jimenez (Sp) 76 72.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral