Golf: Els shows spirit of a champion

In celebrating his 27th birthday on Thursday, it can only be assumed that Ernie Els decided on an early night. It is the only explanation for what happened yesterday morning when Els found himself six down against Steve Stricker after their first circuit of the West Course.

Els could not manage a birdie until the 18th and that was only good enough for a half. "Believe it or not, I did not have a beer all day," Els said of his birthday. "I played like I had a hangover, though." The South African, winner of the last two Toyota World Match Play Championships, in fact paired with Sean Connery for a comeback against Jackie Stewart and Els Snr. It was a good omen.

In 1965, his countryman Gary Player was six down at lunch and lost the 19th against Tony Lema, but won at the 37th. In 1982, Sandy Lyle was six down against Nick Faldo and went on to win 2 and 1. Els likes a challenge. He chipped in at the third in the afternoon and was off and running. He also chipped in at the eighth and holed what he described as a "hallelujah putt" from 40 feet for a half at the ninth.

"I was beginning to wonder what was going on then," Stricker, whose great run of success from St Andrews was due to come to an end, said. It took until the 15th for Els to get square, but at the last Stricker drove into a bunker. His six-iron hit the top of the lip and with an awkward stance, he hit a three-wood over on to the green. "One of the best shots I've ever seen," Els said.

But Stricker could not hole out for a birdie and Els two-putted, despite the second falling in the right edge, to extend his run in the event to seven wins out of seven. "I didn't think I had much chance of getting back into it the way I played this morning," Els said. "I felt for Steve. He played well all day and was all over me. I just wanted to get it into the second nine in the afternoon."

"Nothing went right for me in the afternoon," Stricker said. "Everything went right for Ernie. He hit great shot after great shot."

Els faces Mark Brooks in today's semi-finals after the USPGA champion beat Colin Montgomerie by one hole to end the home interest. The European No 1 was two up after 24 holes, but the American birdied seven of the last 11 holes to clinch the match. Holing from eight feet at the 35th put him one up, and doing similarly at the 36th, prevented the match going into extra holes as the rain and the night closed in equally fast.

Had it not been for the 90-minute rain delay in the morning, Vijay Singh's match with Steve Jones would have been over with indecent haste. Singh won 9 and 8, not quite a record margin, but the US Open champion received pounds 40,000 for his 28-holes work. At the 17th in the morning, Jones hit his drive out of bounds. When Singh, who went out of bounds with his second against Phil Mickelson on Thursday, found the fairway off the tee, Jones conceded the hole. "I wanted to watch the match in front. It was much more interesting," Jones said, referring to the Brooks-Monty encounter.

In the afternoon, Jones bogeyed the third and then Singh, in sparkling form, holed from 40 feet for an eagle at the next on his way to winning four holes in a row. Singh plays Tom Lehman today, the Open champion overcoming fellow American Mark O'Meara 6 and 5. Singh and Lehman have unfinished business. In the President's Cup in 1992, which the Americans won comfortably, they were deadlocked at the third extra hole when they called it a day.

TOYOTA WORLD MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP (Wentworth) Quarter-finals: E Els (SA) bt S Stricker (US) 1 hole; M Brooks (US) bt C Montgomerie (GB) 1 hole; T Lehman (US) bt M O'Meara (US) 6 and 5; S Jones (US) lost to V Singh (Fiji) 9 and 8. Semi-final draw: 0830 and 1300 *E Els (SA) v M Brooks (US); 0845 and 1315 V Singh (Fiji) v *T Lehman (US). *denotes seeded player

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
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: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture