Birthday boy Els celebrates with sizzling 65 in Hong Kong

Former world number one Ernie Els celebrated his 45th birthday by shooting a five-under-par 65 to take the lead in the Hong Kong Open at the halfway stage.

The veteran South African led by two, on nine under, from Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin and Australian duo Scott Hend and Cameron Smith after the second round in Fanling.

Four-time Major winner Els sank six birdies, four of which came in the space of five holes, with a bogey on the fourth being the only blemish on his card.

Smith looked like bettering Els’ round after seven birdies in his opening 10 holes but a second bogey of the day on the ninth — his last — meant he also had to settle for a 65.

Jacquelin and Hend, who is fighting to retain his European Tour card, shot 67 and 66 respectively.

Els, who has not won in 42 events, said: “I played quite nicely and 65 is what I needed to do.

“I’m looking forward to the rest of the week and obviously I’m in a good position.

“I won’t have any alcohol to celebrate but I’ll have a bit of cake and relax back at the hotel and see what we do for dinner tonight.”


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