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April 26 2013

6:00 PM

Els stays afloat on Friday

By Brian Allee-Walsh, PGATOUR.com Correspondent 

AVONDALE, La. -- Dropping a 14-foot birdie putt on his finishing hole Friday made lunch much more enjoyable for Ernie Els at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

It completed a round of 3-under 69 and left him lurking four shots off the lead held by Lucas Glover at 12-under 132.

Els' birdie at No. 9, a 179-yard par 3, was his sixth of the round.

"Yeah, it will help, especially after missing a 3-footer on 8,'' Els said. "I kind of fought hard all day. I had a couple really bad holes in the middle of my round. But I tried to stick in there, and obviously that one on my 18th hole will bring us back.''

Els made the turn at 3-under for his round before encountering trouble on the front nine (his back side). He posted bogeys at Nos. 1, 3 and 6 but closed with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to stay in contention.

Last year in New Orleans, Els lost to Jason Dufner on the second hole of a playoff.

"I like the course,'' said Els, who sandwiched missed cuts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard and RBC Heritage around a T13 at the Masters. "I obviously played well here last year, and I'm just trying to set that same gameplan and really wait for the course to come to me.''

Meanwhile, Zurich Classic officials have designated Saturday as "Blue Out'' day as part of Autism Awareness month. Players and fans are encouraged to wear blue to the event and join the World Golf Hall of Famer and four-time major champion’s foundation "Els for Autism,'' in showing support for those affected by autism spectrum disorders.

"Since Leizl and I announced that our son Ben was touched by autism five years ago, we have been blown away by the support we have received, especially from the golf community,'' he said. "We are extremely touched by this support from the Zurich Classic whose team is helping our efforts to use golf as a platform to shine a light on Autism.''

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