Golf: Faldo bugged by Els

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The Independent Online
THREE southern Africans overtook Nick Faldo to share the lead at the close of the second round of the Million Dollar Challenge in Sun City yesterday.

South Africans Ernie Els and David Frost, and the Zimbabwean Nick Price, possibly benefitting from their knowledge of local conditions, all finished on 139, five under par. Faldo's 141 left him joint second with the American John Cook.

Faldo was unsettled by a dispute over rules with his partner Els. On the second hole, Faldo objected when Els used his putter to brush away a beetle sitting on his line to the hole.

The tournament judges ruled later that under local regulations the action was acceptable, although in Europe or the United States a penalty stroke would have been imposed.

'If somebody had known the bloody rules, they could have told us straight away and it would have been no problem at all,' Faldo said, complaining that officials had not resolved the dispute until the end of the round.

'There was nothing wrong with what he did. If they could have told me that straightaway, it would have been over and done with and we could have got on with it.'

It was not surprising that three southern Africans were in the lead, Faldo said, because they had been born and raised 'playing on Kikuyu grass at 5,000 feet. I learned to play on mud below sea level, in the pouring rain'. Els, 23 and competing for the million dollar first prize for the first time, responded with a birdie on the next hole. 'I just wanted to get on with it, I wasn't angry. I think he (Faldo) got a little bit tense about it,' Els said.

Bernhard Langer, the defending champion who set a tournament record total of 272 last year, went round in 69, three under par, in spite of a double bogey on the eighth when an advertising sign deflected his drive into the rough.

All the leading players except Faldo fared better than on Thursday, when gusting winds played havoc with club selection. Price, who had overcome first-round nerves, carded five birdies yesterday for the day's best score of 67.

MILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE (Sun City, SA): Leading second-round scores: 139 N Price (Zim) 72 67; D Frost (SA) 70 69; E Els (SA) 70 69. 141 J Cook (US) 73 68; N Faldo (GB) 69 72. 142 B Langer (Ger) 73 69. 144 F Couples (US) 74 70. 145 J M Olazabal (Sp) 72 73. 148 I Woosnam (Wal) 75 73. 149 C Parry (Aus) 74 75.