CASTLE STUART, United Kingdom (AFP) – Ernie Els headed a list of four former British Open champions missing the halfway cut at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart on Friday.
Next week's defending Open champion continued to struggle on the greens, recording 61 putts over his two rounds of 72 and 70 to miss the cut by two shots with a two under par tally. Els' second round was a mix of five birdies but also three bogeys.
The current world number 13 is resisting the urge to head to Muirfield, the venue of the British Open, early and instead will remain at nearby Skibo Castle where he has been residing all week.
"I just didn't get the bounces and even though I thought I played quite well today, I had no idea on these greens so I am glad I am leaving and getting on some other greens," said Els, who was joined on the sidelines by fellow former British Open winners, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Sandy Lyle.
"Missing the cut is not great but then we've had a great time here, and even though I was a late entry into the tournament, as I said hopefully I brought a couple more fans through the gates and I was a good playing partner for the other two guys," added Els.
The South African indicated he will work on his game over the weekend at the Skibo Castle course before heading south-east on Sunday to Muirfield.
"I've been to Muirfield a couple of times already in the past few weeks so I will stick with going down there on Sunday night, as planned," said Els.
"There's nothing much really I need to work on as my game is where I want it. It didn't quite go my way these last two days in making a couple of silly errors especially yesterday with a couple of soft bogeys. "So hopefully I've got all those silly mistakes out of the system.
"But this is not a blow in anyway to my preparations next week and besides Castle Stuart is a lot more different that Muirfield that is a more traditional links course.
"I just got a lot of awkward bounces this week and didn't make any putts but I feel I can get it going next week." Harrington, who posted a round of 72 to miss by one at three under par, intends heading straight to Muirfield.
"I will now go down to Muirfield and play 18 holes the next two days and that means I can take it easier Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," said the 2007 and 2008 British Open champion.
Scotland's Chris Doak signed for a second straight 66 to head the field by a stroke on 12-under par with four players, including American Peter Uihlein, who also carded a 66, in second place on 11-under par.
"It was fantastic to shoot a 66 in the first round and now to do it again today is tremendous," said Doak. Doak will now be looking to secure one of the two remaining spots into next week's British Open by finishing first in Scotland, and with the final Muirfield tee time allocated to the winner of the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour. American Phil Mickelson, who carded a 70, remains well placed at eight under par.
The four under par cut off mark, that is the equal lowest in the event's 41-year history, sees 70 players heading to the last rounds separated by just eight shots.