Ernie Els (Getty Images)
Ernie Els continued his recent fine form with a sublime nine under par 63 to take the clubhouse lead during a birdie-packed first round at the BMW International Open.
The South African, who finished tied for sixth at Wentworth Club and tied fourth in the US Open championship on his last two starts, fired five birdies in an outward 31 after starting at the tenth.
The Open Champion then started for home with a 40 foot birdie at the short second, before producing one for the highlight reel at the par five sixth.
Having seen his drive finish in rough
to the right of the fairway and with water guarding the green, Els fired a brilliant wood approach almost 250 yards to within five feet of the cup and holed the subsequent putt.
Els had another eagle putt at the ninth for a share of the course record, but a two-putt birdie still proved good enough for the outright lead.
“It seems like it's really a day of scoring today,” said Els. “If you shoot a really low one, it's nice. It takes the pressure off the rest of the tournament a little bit.
“Although you're leading, it doesn't really mean much until Sunday, but if you get into the race, so to speak, early on in the tournament, it's nice to be right in the hunt.
“Guys will be shooting low this afternoon and tomorrow morning; so I probably won't be in the lead by the time I tee off. But it's nice to have got a good round under my belt and can start kind of going for Sunday
“I've really been working hard at my game. Especially obviously going into the US Open and really around the PGA at Wentworth, I could feel things were coming around a bit. I had a bit of an iffy year up to now, but I really feel that my swing feels good and my body feels good, touch wood. So I can swing the club, properly.”
England’s Matthew Baldwin and Sweden’s Alex Noren were tied for second on
eight under, with low scoring the order of the day at Golfclub München Eichenried, with France’s Alexander Levy and English pair Tom Lewis and Matthew Nixon on seven under.
The biggest move of the afternoon session was coming from Bernd Wiesberger, the Austrian advancing to six under par through 11 holes.
A shot further back was 2008 winner and home favourite Martin Kaymer, who birdied the 12th from five feet and 13th from ten feet to join, amongst others, US Ryder Cup star Dustin Johnson on five under.