Ernie goes on memory to go low in Round 1 at Sun City

Ernie Els (Gallo Images)
Ernie Els (Gallo Images)

Sun City - Ernie Els says he knows the Gary Player Country Club like the back of his hand - and he proved it in the opening round of the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge on Thursday.

LIVE LEADERBOARD: Nedbank Golf Challenge - Round 1

Els, who received a tournament invitation to compete at Sun City, recorded a bogey-free opening round of 4-under 68.

The last time Els won a tournament was in 2013 at the European Tour's BMW International Open in Germany.

The big South African admitted that although he's rarely a title contender nowadays, he's still bursting for the taste of victory.

"No one really gives me a chance to win, but you still want to play well," Els told reporters after his round on Thursday.

"If I get something going, I know how to score around this place so it was nice to get to a decent start and ease into the round."

The four-time Major winner, who won "Africa's Major" in 1999, 2000 and 2002, says he knows the course almost like the back of his hand.

"I just went on memory going around the golf course... I'm very happy with 68, I didn't expect it," said Els.

"I came here with a bit of a niggle in my hip - because of all the flying I've been doing - but that worked itself out. I was really pleased I could swing freely."

The 50-year-old, who will be making his debut on the PGA Champions Tour next year, insisted he still has a passion for the game.

"I haven't played well the last two or three years, but I love the game and still enjoy playing." 

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