Ernie Els has one of the sweetest swings on tour, but it’s his even-tempered demeanor, altruistic nature and sound character that makes him one of the more well-liked guys in golf. A bizarre situation at the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship won’t change that standing.
On Wentworth’s par-5 12th hole, Els found his second shot plugged next to a greenside bunker. The ball was so buried that the four-time major winner signaled to his playing partners that he was going to mark his ball to identify it. Els replaced it and proceeded to chip in for eagle.
However, something didn’t feel right to the 47-year-old.
“The ball came out too good,” Els told reporters after his round. “So I felt I didn’t quite probably put it exactly where I should have.”
After conferring with a rules official, Els penalized himself two shots for playing the ball from the wrong place. It proved to be costly, as it dropped Els almost 20 spots on the first-round leader board.
“It’s one of those things. The game of golf is what it is,” Els said. “I know deep down the ball wasn’t quite where it should be, and you know, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. So be it. It’s a five, and we move on.”
And more importantly, moving on with his integrity intact.