The Norman Transcript

Sports

July 18, 2014

Fan hit by Ernie Els’ tee shot

HOYLAKE, England — Ernie Els hit a spectator in the face with his opening tee shot at the British Open on Thursday, shaking up the two-time champion for the rest of his first round at Royal Liverpool.

The man’s injury and Els’ subsequent triple-bogey 7 on the first hole were just the start of his problems. The Big Easy will have a big task trying to make the cut after carding a 7-over 79, including 42 on the front nine.

Els said he was “quite rattled” after he realized the man, who he estimated was in his 60s, was bleeding profusely from a shot that Els said hit the spectator directly in the face.

“There was blood everywhere,” Els said. “It was like a bullet coming at him. I obviously felt pretty bad about it. It wasn’t nice. I was trying to hit it left, and should have told the starters to move the people back on the left side, but I didn’t do that.”

Tournament officials said the spectator was not seriously injured.

Els later tweeted: “Really tough day today. Just spoke to the gentleman I hit on the 1st and happily he’s fine. Got him some tickets ... this weekend.”

That’s good news for the fan, but Els might not be playing.

On the first green, he missed a bogey putt from about eight inches, bizarrely backhanded the subsequent foot-long putt just past the hole and tapped in for his triple bogey.

“Yeah, I was kind of finished. I started to miss short putts, it was just a nightmare,” he said.

Els said he may have “put the jinx” on his playing partners — defending champion Phil Mickelson shot 74, and Masters winner Bubba Watson had a 76.

Watson said he felt Els was affected by the man’s injury.

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