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.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable