VANCOUVER, (Reuters) – South African Ernie Els enjoyed a return to form yesterday by grabbing a share of the early first-round lead at the Canadian Open after missing several cuts in recent months.
Els, whose missed cuts include the U.S. Open and British Open, shot a two-under 68 at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club to join Americans Brett Quigley and Bill Lunde atop a tightly-bunched leaderboard.
“Obviously I am very pleased with that, this is a very tough golf course,” Els told reporters. “All and all just a solid round of golf.
“This golf course is very much like a U.S. Open. It’s Canada’s national open and this is the way national opens should be played. They should be played as tough as possible.”
The spectacular tree-lined Shaughnessy layout bared its teeth as the early starters struggled to get under par in near ideal conditions.
The last time the Canadian Open was staged on the par 70 layout in 2005 it played as the most difficult non-major event on the PGA Tour and may hold that distinction again this year.
Lurking one-shot back are American young guns Anthony Kim and Rickie Fowler, Kevin Na, Lee Janzen, Lucas Glover, Ben Crane and Bud Cauley.
Masters champion Charl Schwartzel got his day off to rocky start going three-over on the front nine but the South African responded with an error free finish picking up a pair of birdies, including one at the last to finish on one-over 71.
Jose Maria Olazabal’s first visit to the Canadian Open got off to a rough start as the Spaniard laboured to a four-over 74, one better than 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen, who mixed a double-bogey with six bogeys and three birdies for a five-over-par 75.