Els glad to bow out of Scottish Open ahead of British Open defence

South African admits he didn’t get the bounces at Castle Stuart

Ernie Els looks on with caddie Colin Byrne during the second round of the  Scottish Open at Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness, Scotland. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Ernie Els looks on with caddie Colin Byrne during the second round of the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness, Scotland. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 19:20

British Open champion Ernie Els today said he was glad to make an early exit from the Scottish Open, just days before the defence of his title at Muirfield.

Els could only card an opening 72 at Castle Stuart on a day when 117 players broke par and a second round of 70 was not enough to make the halfway cut as the low scoring continued.

“I just did not get the bounces,” Els said. “I thought I played quite well today but I had no idea on these greens so I am glad I am leaving to get on some other greens.

“A missed cut is not great but we have had a great time here. I did not get the run of the course, it felt like it was against me, but I am playing nicely and gave myself a lot of opportunities.

“My game is where I want it to be. It did not quite go my way these last two days and I made a couple of silly errors, soft bogeys, yesterday. It’s not the first cut I’ve missed and it won’t be the last.”

At the other end of the leaderboard, Scotland’s Chris Doak had set the clubhouse target on 12 under par after a second consecutive 66 took him one ahead of American Peter Uihlein.

Doak, playing only his second full season on the European Tour at the age of 35, carded five birdies, an eagle and one bogey, while Uihlein also returned a 66 containing a double-bogey seven on his third hole but also eight birdies in his last 12 holes.

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson was a shot behind after equalling the lowest round of the week so far with a flawless 64, with Italy’s Francesco Molinari another stroke back following a 66.

“I’m very pleased with the score but still feel like I left a few chances out there,” Stenson said. “I three-putted the 18th for par and the putt on nine was more in the hole than a few that I made but somehow lipped out. That would have been the icing on the cake.

“I’ve just had two weeks off and been busy with other stuff so am still a bit rusty but I have another two rounds to work on it.”

Doak lost his card at the end of his only previous season on the European Tour in 2009, but regained it by finishing 10th on the Challenge Tour last year.

“The first time around I was still wet behind the ears but the Challenge Tour definitely taught me how to play four rounds and handle the travel,” the Glaswegian said. “It’s a tough environment because there are a lot of great players out there and you need to be consistent because there is not as much money.

“But anything that’s worth learning takes time and hopefully it’s coming together now. It’s fantastic to shoot 66 and follow it up with another one and I’m really pleased.”

Three straight birdies from the 13th was the highlight of Damien McGrane’s second round of 69 that saw him get to eight under and a share of 13th place going in to the weekend.

Shane Lowry’s challenge faltered on day two as he could only manage a 73 after opening with a 66 to slip back to five under. He is joined there by Gareth Maybin (70) and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley (72).

Darren Clarke and Simon Thornton both carded 72s and are set to miss the cut by one shot after finishing on three under, the same mark as Pádraig Harrington, who shot a 71.

Michael Hoey shot a 71 to finish on one under, a 74 from David Higgins left him on one over, while Peter Lawrie was back on four over after 71.