Bunker Mentality

Els three-putts from 8 inches in worst opening hole of epic career

Bunker Mentality

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Ernie Els at Hoylake

Ernie Els has had some fantastic moments at The Open.

It's fair to say, however, that Thursday's opening hole was not one of them.

The 2002 and 2012 champion came up to the tee full of confidence, playing alongside defending champion Phil Mickelson.

Things went sour immediately, however: he hooked his opening tee shot badly, smashing a spectator in the face. And yet that wasn't the worst thing he did on the hole - not by a long chalk.

After slashing out of the rough short and right, Els managed to hack his third shot onto the green, and hit a pretty decent first putt up to just eight inches away.

Job done, then, or so it seemed - after a poor drive, Els would get the bogey that always seemed likely, and move on.

Except he didn't: he stood over that tiddler of a putt, and pushed it past the edge of the hole.

At this point, you normally expect a veteran of over 20 years of professional golf to step away, take stock and calm himself down.

Instead, Els lost it completely: in his anger, he hit his next putt straight away, using the back of his putter - and almost inevitably, missed again, leaving the ball on the lip.

He tapped in from an inch, and walked off with a triple bogey - one of his worst-ever starts to a tournament, and almost certainly ruining his chances this week with one careless moment of idiocy.

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