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

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little