July 17, 2014
- Two-time Open Championship winner Ernie Els shot 79 on Thursday. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
HOYLAKE, England (AP) -- 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 stick around for the weekend 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."
Els said he would make inquiries about the man's recovery. Tournament officials said the spectator was not seriously injured.
On the first green, Els 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.
Ernie Els three-putts for a triple-bogey 7 on No. 1 at The Open