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Els: Calling penalty on myself right thing to do

 

By Phil Casey

Ernie Els believes he got two major decisions right after calling a penalty on himself in the first round of the BMW PGA Championship.

Els appeared to have chipped in for an eagle on the par-five 12th at Wentworth, but instantly realised he had not replaced his ball in the right place after checking to see if it was plugged.

The four-time major winner was therefore assessed a two-shot penalty (under Rule 20-7) and eventually signed for a one-under-par 71 to lie five shots off the pace set by Sweden's Johan Carlsson. "I pulled my second shot a bit left and hit it into the bank of the bunker," Els explained. "I thought it was plugged, so I asked my guys (playing partners) if I could check it and they said, 'Yeah'.

"I put it back and I hit my chip shot and I just felt uncomfortable the way the ball came out. The ball came out way too good so I felt I didn't quite probably put it exactly where I should have.

"Under the rules you try and put it back the way it should be, but I still felt uncomfortable, so we took a penalty. I know deep down the ball wasn't quite where it should be and I wouldn't be able to live with myself."

Els at least had reason to celebrate the verdict on his latest redesign of the West Course, which has met with universal approval from his fellow competitors.

"The greens are absolutely as pure as you can find," said the 47-year-old, who was visibly upset by criticism of his original redesign in 2010. "Next week we'll be playing the Memorial (at Muirfield Village) and I think these greens are running just as good or better than the Memorial, or Augusta for that matter."

Scotland's Scott Jamieson is one shot off the clubhouse lead while Shane Lowry is a shot further back on four under par. Darren Clarke is one over par.

• IN a nail-biting finish, Ireland defended their title and won the second International King's Cup at Lough Erne Resort in Fermanagh, defeating the USA 580-572.

The Irish managed to hold onto the 30-point lead they had earned themselves in Wednesday's play, which was split into two sessions of fourballs and foursomes.

But, not to be beaten easily, the team from America fought back bravely in yesterday's singles with captain Larry Lunsford determined not to taste defeat for the second year running.

They won the day's play, 299-277, but that was not enough to overcome the Irish lead.

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