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Golfer Els shoots 12-under at Heineken
Updated: 2004-02-05 16:05

Ernie Els shot a career-best 12-under 60 on Thursday in the first round of the Heineken Classic, leaving him a stroke short of becoming the first player to shoot a sub-60 round in the history of the European and Australasian tours.

The South African star, seeking his second straight victory on Royal Melbourne's composite course, parred the final two holes and had a bogey on No. 15. He finished the round in windless conditions with an eagle, 11 birdies, five pars and the lone bogey.

"I felt really good on the driving range this morning, and I could see the conditions were pretty ideal," Els said. "I knew that Michael Campbell had a 64, so I kept plugging away."

On the par-4 17, Els left a 35-foot birdie putt 3 feet short. On No. 18, also a par-4 hole, his approach from the adjoining 17th fairway went to the back fringe of the green, and his birdie putt went nearly 3 feet past the hole.

Els, who took a four-stroke lead over New Zealand's Campbell, broke the previous Royal Melbourne record of 62 set by New Zealand's Richard Lee in 2002. The South African's best previous round was a 61 in the 1994 Dubai Desert Classic.

Three PGA Tour players have shot 59s, Al Geiberger in the 1977 Memphis Classic, Chip Beck in the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational, and David Duval in the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. All three were 13 under on par-72 courses. Annika Sorenstam (news - web sites) also accomplished the feat in the LPGA Tour's 2001 Standard Register Ping.

Jason Bohn shot a 13-under 58 in a 2001 Canadian Tour event, and Japan's Shigeki Maruyama also had a 13-under 58 in qualifying for the 2000 U.S. Open (news - web sites) in Rockville, Md. Two Nationwide Tour players also have had 59s, Doug Dunakey and Notah Begay.

New Zealand's Mahal Pearce and Australians Wade Ormsby and Craig Carmichael shot 65s. England's Nick Faldo opened with a 68, Greg Norman shot a 71, and former U.S. amateur champion Ricky Barnes had a 72.

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