Ernie Els fires 65 for lead at Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

South African Ernie Els used a blistering front nine, powered by five consecutive birdies, to produce a round-best 65 on Saturday and grab a three-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, N.Y.

The 51-year-old Els, who began the tournament with a 68 on Friday, shot a six-under 31 through nine holes with birdies on holes two through six, then capped his day with a birdie on 18 to leave him at 11 under.

Cameron Beckman fired a bogey-free 69 to pull in at eight-under through 36 holes, alone in second place. Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke (68) and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez (69) are tied for third at seven under.

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Ernie Els fires 65 for lead at Dick’s Sporting Goods Open
04 July 2021 | 07:46
Ernie Els © Getty Images
South African Ernie Els used a blistering front nine, powered by five consecutive birdies, to produce a round-best 65 on Saturday and grab a three-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, N.Y.

The 51-year-old Els, who began the tournament with a 68 on Friday, shot a six-under 31 through nine holes with birdies on holes two through six, then capped his day with a birdie on 18 to leave him at 11 under.

Cameron Beckman fired a bogey-free 69 to pull in at eight-under through 36 holes, alone in second place. Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke (68) and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez (69) are tied for third at seven under.

Els, searching for his third career win on the PGA Tour Champions circuit, took control early with his five-birdie run. He told reporters after his round that putting has been an issue recently, so he has finally given a new putter a try.

“I practised with this one and it’s the stand-up one, so it’s really to my specs — 71 degrees, lie angle and all that,” Els said. “So I practised with it, but I haven’t had the courage to put it in, but I was thinking about it last week all week but I just never put it in.

“The greens were a little bit fast last week (at the Senior Player’s Championship). But anyway, it’s in the bag and here we go.”

Beckman was two shots worse than his opening 67, but was steady if unspectacular — securing 15 pars along with birdies on Nos 4, 9 and 18 to stay in contention.

“I hit the ball nice today and I missed — I had a bunch to capitalise on and get a little further under today,” Beckman said. “But any time you go bogey-free … I hit a lot of greens and just a lot of great shots, so I’m excited for tomorrow.”

Five players are tied for fifth place at six under with 18 holes to go, including Paul Goydos (69), Tom Byrum (70) and Wes Short Jr., who followed a first-round-best 66 Friday with a 72. Alex Cejka (69) of the Czech Republic and Germany’s Bernhard Langer (71) are the other two golfers tied at six under.

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