Els enjoys desert manoeuvres following back-to-basics drive
Friday 04 March 2005
Ernie Els abandoned the search for the perfect round here yesterday. The result was a six-under-par 66 and a one-stroke first-round lead over the Ryder Cup pair of David Howell and Miguel Angel Jimenez in the Dubai Desert Classic.
After missing out narrowly in the majors last year and failing to put the finishing touches to some great play at the start of this season, Els consulted the Belgian sports psychologist Jos Vanstiphout on his return from a three-week lay-off.
The world No 3, the only player in the top 15 taking part in the event, said: "We get bogged down trying to play the perfect game, but I got back to basics. The game plan worked out really well. I know the course so well [he is seeking his third win on it and his 61 in 1994 still stands as the record] and I was very aggressive on the back nine. I didn't hit many fairways, but I felt like I hit it solid and it was a good day's work."
The South African has not missed a half-way cut in a European Tour event since 1999 and in his last 35 starts has had no fewer than 29 top-10 finishes.
Sandy Lyle was four under after four holes, but then had a double-bogey seven on the 18th. With Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo being named as the next two Ryder Cup captains, the 46-year-old Scot doubts whether he will ever be given the job now.
"I don't know why they have done two in one fell swoop - they have never done it before and there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge," Lyle said. "Basically, that's it for me now, I think."
DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 66 E Els (SA). 67 M A Jimenez (Sp), D Howell 68 J Lyle (Aus), S Osborne. 69 J Kingston (SA), C Schwartzel (SA), T Bjorn (Den), A Marshall, R Karlsson (Swe), H Stenson (Swe), P Hedblom (Swe), N Dougherty, P Fulke (Swe), P Fowler (Aus). 70 K Ferrie, S Scahill (NZ), P Hanson (Swe), F Havret (Fr), B Curtis (US), J Haeggman (Swe), C Montgomerie, A Hansen (Den), M Olander (Swe), D Mackenzie (Aus), A Forsyth, L Westwood, T Taniguchi (Japan), P McGinley, S Dodd, A Wall, P Sjoland (Swe), R Finch, J Bickerton, M Lafeber (Neth), S Kjeldsen (Den), D Fichardt (SA), S O'Hara, J Donaldson, P Sheehan (Aus).
Simon Calder looks at communities fighting back against the poachers
Latest in Sport
Sam Wallace: David Moyes is paying the price of United’s virtual abstinence from top-level transfers since 2006. Can he refire their ambition?
Arsenal 1 Everton 1 match report: Gerard Deulofeu provides late sucker punch after Mesut Ozil's opener
I will not be forced into panic buys at Manchester United, says David Moyes
Gerard Deulofeu - Why Barcelona chose Everton to educate their latest prodigy
Ashes 2013-14 match report: Another woeful display sees England lose to Australia by 218 runs to go down 2-0
- 1 Turning up the voice of America
- 2 The poorest pay the price for austerity: Workers face biggest fall in living standards since Victorian era
- 3 The man who made Femen: New film outs Victor Svyatski as the mastermind behind the protest group and its breast-baring stunts
- 4 An obsessive’s documenting of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon can show us how the West lost respect for international law
- 5 Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis