x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Ernie Els a far cry from 14 years ago

The South African player, a champion at the US Open in 1997, considers going away for some time to rebuild his withering game.

BETHESDA, Maryland // Ernie Els stood in a foyer just inside the clubhouse, along a wall adorned with photos and other mementos from his 1997 US Open victory.

He was not in the mood to reminisce, not after missing the cut in the championship's return to Congressional Country Club yesterday.

"Fourteen years ago, I was in a different position," he said. "Missing the cut now, I'm a little bit older, I'm 42 this year, and obviously things aren't going my way right now. It's been a long time. I've had a lot of success the last 14 years from '97 to now.

"Right now, I'm just as low as I've ever been, and that's the fact."

Els missed a tap-in on his first hole on Friday and four-putted the hole. His rounds of 73 and 75 put him two shots below the cut line at four-over-par 146, which was determined when the suspended second round concluded yesterday morning.

Els, the two-time champion, has missed the cut in four of his past six tournaments and is running out of ways to solve his wayward putting game.

"I maybe should take some time off and see where I'm at," he said. "I'm working hard and I'm not getting anything out of it, so maybe I should just go away for a while."

Twenty players were unable to finish after two rain delays on Friday and the pressure was on a handful of them to try to survive the cut yesterday morning.

The Australian Nick O'Hern missed a six-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole to miss the cut by one shot, along with American Jesse Hutchins, who took a bogey six there. The American John Ellis bogeyed the 18th to finish at five over.

Also missing the cut were Stewart Cink, the 2009 British Open champion, and Adam Scott, after each bogeyed his last hole to go to five over. That means the tournament is also over for Scott's caddie, Steve Williams, who rarely has weekends off when he carries the bag for Tiger Woods.

The 2003 US Open winner Jim Furyk (149) is also done, as is Colombia's Camilo Villegas (149), the only player who had made the cut in the last 12 majors. Peter Uihlein, the US Amateur champion (150) will sit out the weekend for his second major in a row.

A total of 72 players advanced to the closing 36 holes.

The South African Christo Greyling and the Canadian Adam Hadwin, playing together, made it on the number after playing the last four holes of the front nine in three under. Greyling birdied the sixth, seventh and eighth, Hadwin the sixth, eighth and ninth.

For Greyling, 28, it meant he would play the final round of his debut on Father's Day 20 months after his father committed suicide. The former amateur star, who has battled depression, came through two stages of qualifying and in the second of them birdied four of the final seven holes to go through.

The amateurs who made the cut were Patrick Cantlay (142), Russell Henley (142) and Brad Benjamin (145). Bubba Watson birdied the difficult No 18 to make the cut, saving the weekend for the foursome who made the send-up, poke-fun-at-golf video this week. The other three in the group - Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler, and Hunter Mahan - have the weekend to think up another parody.

* Agencies