Sat, 28 May 2022

Ernie Els on top after first round of Champions season

Field Level Media
21 Jan 2022, 14:19 GMT+10

South Africa's Ernie Els fired an eagle en route to an 8-under-par 64 and grabbed a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in Ka'upulehu-Kona, Hawaii.

Fiji's Vijay Singh sat in second place after carding a 65 at Hualalai Golf Club. Charles Schwab Cup champion Bernhard Langer of Germany, New Zealand's Steven Alker, Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, Canada's Stephen Ames and South Africa's Retief Goosen were tied for third at 66.

The PGA Tour Champions' season-opening event includes six Hall of Famers -- Els, Singh, Langer, Goosen, Mark O'Meara (first-round 72, tied for 33rd) and Tom Watson (78, 41st place) -- among the 42 entrants.

Els was already 5 under for the day before his second shot on the par-5 14th hole landed just right of the green and trickled toward the pin. He sank the 10-foot eagle putt, and he capped his bogey-free round with a birdie on the 18th hole.

Els said of his offseason preparations, "You know what, just took a rest. I need to lose about 10 pounds, but I'm sure we can do that in the next couple weeks. I played with the guys, kept myself sharp, played a lot of golf. ... Just a great feeling coming out here. Just want to let it go out here, so it's a good feeling to be out here."

Singh's card was almost identical to Els'. He had an eagle (on the par-5 fourth hole) and no bogeys, but Singh finished with one birdie fewer.

"My game has been good for a while," Singh said. "It's just getting all the jitters out and going out and playing tournament golf, which I haven't done since (the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship). It was nice to get a good one in."

Langer also eagled the fourth hole. The 64-year-old German keeps thriving against the "youngsters" on the over-50 circuit, having won his sixth Charles Schwab Cup in the combined 2020-21 season.

"Why should it be different than it was two months ago really as long as I'm healthy?" Langer said. "I'm a lot shorter (hitter) than these guys. Miguel (Angel Jimenez) outdrives me 30, 40 (yards) and Darren (Clarke) 40, 50 if he catches one. I'm hitting more clubs into the greens, but so far, so good."

--Field Level Media

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