Ernie Els avoids penalty after viewer complaint
Ernie Els’ embarrassment at taking four shots in a greenside bunker during the Scottish Open almost became a whole lot worse when the South African was reported by an eagle-eyed TV viewer for a possible rules breach during the incident.
The two-time US Open champion was confronted by senior referee Andy McFee after his opening round of 70 on Thursday and told that a viewer thought Els grounded his club in the bunker. Footage was reviewed but Els wasn’t handed a two-shot penalty.
Els said he was “digging a grave” when he attempted to escape the hazard on No. 6 at the Castle Stuart links course.
“I was doing some bunker practice for the (British) Open next week,” he said. “I was slightly embarrassed out there.”
Els also made a double-bogey six on the 15th — his sixth hole after starting at No. 10 — but seven birdies allowed him to sign for 2 under, eight shots off the lead held by Francesco Molinari of Italy.