Ernie Els rallies into contention with 68

June, 16, 2012
06/16/12
9:16
PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO -- With a chip-in eagle from off the green at the par-5 17th hole, two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els jumped to 2-over par for the tournament. The 42-year-old South African finished with a 2-under-par 68 on Saturday at the Olympic Club.

"I'm in a much better mood now than I was on the sixth tee," Els said after his round. "This afternoon I was 3 over for the round, 7 over for the event. So to come back and play the last 12 holes in 5 under is quite amazing, and obviously the shot on 17 is what dreams are made of, a shot like that in a U.S. Open. So I'm really pleased."

Els' most recent opportunity to win a U.S. Open came in 2010 at Pebble Beach, where he finished third. At Pebble, Els had a share of the lead after six holes in the final round, but his chances for a third open were derailed at the ninth and 10th holes, where he went bogey, double-bogey. For Els, who failed to qualify for the Masters earlier this year, being in contention at another U.S. Open must be satisfying after so many close calls since he won his two Opens in the 1990s.

"Today it was playable," Els said. "Tomorrow if it's really firm, you won't see a score under par. The course is really difficult.

"There's a bit of moisture that gives us a bit of a brick and guys that are really on their games can shine a bit. So we'll see."

Farrell Evans covers golf for ESPN and can be contacted at evans.espn@gmail.com.

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