AUGUSTA -- After his head-scratching six-putt from inside two feet went viral on Thursday at the Masters, Ernie Els said "I can't explain it," on two separate occasions during a four-question post-round interview.
Els was one of the most talked about players during the opening round at Augusta National, but not for a good reason.
Playing the par-4 first hole, Els six-putted for a 9, and all of the putts came from inside about two feet. He's had the so-called "putting yips" pop up in the past, but nothing this extreme. Els rebounded nicely and shot an 8-over 80 in what could have been a disastrous round.
Afterward, Els talked to the media about his putting problems, but he admits he doesn't have a solution. In fact, he was asked four questions and said "unexplainable" three times.
"A lot of people have stopped playing the game (due to the yips), you know, it's unexplainable," he said. "I couldn't get the putter back. I was standing there, I've got a 3‑footer, I've made thousands of 3‑footers and I just couldn't take it back. And then I just kind of lost count after ‑‑ I mean, the whole day was a grind. I tried to fight. I'm hitting the ball half decent and I can't make it from two feet. … When you count them up, it's too many shots just out there, just on the green. So it's very difficult. I'm not sure where I'm going from here. So, I don't know. We'll see.
"I don't know how I stayed out there. But you love the game and you got to have respect for the tournament and so forth, but it's unexplainable. It's very tough to tell you what goes through your mind. It's the last thing that you want to do is do that on a golf course at this level. So, it’s very difficult."
One of his playing partners, Jason Day, was asked about Els’ struggles.
“It's the first time ever I've seen anything like that; I feel for Ernie,” Day said. “I feel like I'm pretty good mates with him, being on past Presidents Cup teams and I've known him for a long time now. I didn't realize he was fighting stuff like that upstairs with the putter. But it's painful for players to go through that.”
Els started his second round at 9:59 a.m. EST.