U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

The Loop

Els survives brutal stretch to start morning

August 13, 2010

HAVEN, Wis. -- During a long wait on the 17th tee this morning, Ernie Els could see disaster unfold before him.

Els looked to the group ahead and saw Mike Weir step carefully down into the gully left of the green on the 210-yard par 3. He saw Weir skull his first chip into a bunker, saw him need an improbable next chip just to carry the retraining wall and get onto the green, then saw Weir two-putt for double bogey.

None of this would have been a big deal if Els didn't then proceed to hit his own tee shot to practically same spot.

The difference for the three-time major champion is that Els fended off a similar fate. After pulling his 4-iron, Els drew a decent enough lie to pop his chip up onto the green, setting up his four-footer for par.

Entering the morning Els was tied for the lead at four under, but instead heads into his second round a stroke behind Matt Kuchar. Given that the four holes he had to play included the 17th and the perhaps more brutal, long 15th hole, Els was more than content to hold his ground.

"It was a little tough stretch coming in this morning," Els said. "Four pars -- I'll take that."

-- Sam Weinman