VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) — Six-time champion Ernie Els opened a three-hole lead over Angel Cabrera after 18 holes of the World Match Play Championship final on Sunday.
The South African, seeking his first victory of the year, can claim a seventh title if his putting remains as good in the second round at Wentworth as it was during the morning.
Els, who will turn 38 on Wednesday, had 10 one-putt greens — including two 35-footers — after adopting a new method halfway through his semifinal match against Henrik Stenson of Sweden on Saturday.
Els led U.S. Open champion Cabrera by three holes with the two closing par-5s to play but bogeyed the 17th after driving into trees and taking four to reach the green.
But he got up and down from a greenside bunker for a winning birdie at the 18th as Cabrera missed a six-footer and made par.
Els was reportedly hoping to finish the match in time to fly to Paris for South Africa’s Rugby World Cup semifinal match against Argentina later Sunday.