Ernie Els hopes to defend title

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:07 IST

South African Ernie Els, the only double winner of the Scottish Open, embarked on a mission on Thursday to defend his title

Ernie Els hopes to defend title

Loch Lomond, Scotland: South African Ernie Els, the only double winner of the Scottish Open since Loch Lomond Golf Club became the host venue, embarked on a mission on Thursday to defend his title and complete a hat-trick of victories, in the final European Tour event before the British Open at Troon. Ten major winners are in the field, including the current US Masters champion Phil Mickelson. The American, who lost out in the recent US Open to Retief Goosen, had a disappointing day. He mixed five bogeys with four birdies and will start his second round seven strokes behind after a one-over 72. Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, who insisted he has put behind him his final round collapse at last year's British Open, bogeyed the 17th, which marred a fine round. His three-under 68 left him in a share of 13th place. Els had a quiet opening round, shooting a one-under 70. His score might have been better had he not recorded bogeys at the 17th and 18th. Colin Montgomerie, starting his round at the 10th hole, bogeyed the last after an errant three wood tee shot, but still posted a two-under 69, four off the lead. American Tom Lehman, winner of the 1996 British Open at Royal Lytham and the 1997 Scottish Open, had six birdies and two bogeys in a four-under round of 67, which left him in a tie for fifth place. Late in the day, Eduardo Romero moved into a share of the lead after a birdie at the 18th. The Argentinian's only blemish was a bogey five at the fourth hole. But seven birdies, including three in a row on the front nine, left him with a 65. Welshman Philip Price shot a flawless opening round of 65 to establish the early lead. Enjoying the morning sunshine at Loch Lomond, Price rolled in consecutive birdies over his closing three holes to lie at six-under-par. He was later caught by Romero and Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara, who also finished on six-under. (AP)
Topics : Golf
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