Ernie Els vows to beat the yips after missing SA Open cut
Brandon Stone leads in Johannesburg as weather brings an early end to day three
Tournament host Ernie Els missed the cut at the SA Open. Photograph: Getty
Four-time major winner Ernie Els has vowed to beat the yips after worrying putting problems contributed to the tournament host missing the cut in the BMW SA Open in Johannesburg.
Els had been three over par with three holes to play in the opening round before seemingly reviving his chances of a sixth victory in the event with a birdie on the seventh and an eagle on the par-five eighth at Glendower.
However, the South African then three-putted the ninth, his final hole, to card a one-over-par 73, with the 46-year-old’s par putt from 18 inches not even touching the hole.
Els, who added a 74 in the delayed second round on Saturday to miss the cut by a shot, missed two similar putts in the space of a month towards the end of last season and admitted at the time he did not want to watch the first of them after it went viral on the internet.
With anchored strokes banned since January 1, Els cannot go back to the “belly” putter with which he won the last of his major titles in the 2012 Open, but remains determined that the problem will not mean the end of his stellar career.
Commentating for Sky Sports during the third round, Els said: “I’m so stubborn. I felt like I could do the same thing I have for the last 30 years and get the same results.
“I putted cross-handed in the second round and it felt so much better.
“I love the game too much, I’m not going to stop. I’m going to get over this by using the cross-handed method and still have fun out there.”
England’s Daniel Brooks held a slender lead at the halfway stage after completing the last 11 holes of his second round in six under par and doubled his advantage with a birdie on the first in round three.
However, the 28-year-old bogeyed the fifth after a wild drive and had company at the top of the leaderboard when South Africa’s Brandon Stone carded four birdies and one bogey in a front nine of 33.
Compatriot Keith Horne was two shots off the pace with pre-tournament favourite Branden Grace, who finished his second round with bogeys on the 17th and 18th, two shots further back after a front nine of 38.
Brooks briefly reclaimed the lead with a two-putt birdie on the par-five eighth, but the highly-rated Stone then holed from 10 feet on the 11th for his fifth birdie of the day.
However, play was then suspended for the third day running due to the threat of lightning, leaving Brooks and Stone tied for the lead on 10 under, two shots ahead of Horne.