Els one shot back at Memorial

Jun 1, 2007 - 1:08 PM DUBLIN, Ohio (Ticker) - Winless for three years on the PGA Tour, Ernie Els is within one stroke of leaders Sean O'Hair, Rod Pampling and Nick O'Hern heading into Friday's second round of the $5.5 million Memorial tournament.

Els carded a 6-under-par-66 in Thursday's first round. Tiger Woods did not capitalize on a strong start that had him 3-under through six holes, posting a pedestrian 2-under 70, while Phil Mickelson withdrew after 11 holes due to a left wrist injury.

Els, putting cross-handed for the first time over an entire round, stormed home with five birdies on the back nine.

Els, who has not won on the PGA Tour since 2004, was so frustrated last Sunday that he experimented putting cross-handed for the final nine holes, and the initial results were positive.

Els was far from flawless Thursday, but he used a sharp short game to extricate himself on the few occasions he was in trouble.

Els joined Aaron Baddeley, Bubba Watson, Tim Herron and Ryan Moore in a tie for third, while O'Hair, Pampling and O'Hern shared the lead at 7-under 65.

O'Hair is making his first appearance since the Players Championship, where three weeks ago he challenged Mickelson for victory until a quadruple-bogey at the penultimate hole.

But O'Hair seems to have put that disappointment behind him, and his swing is certainly still is in the groove.

Pampling's card was identical to O'Hair's on the front nine, with both players making birdies at the same five holes.

Pampling has been playing well lately without much to show for it, due to, he said, an uncooperative putter, but he had no trouble finding the hole on Thursday, draining nine birdies, including a 20-footer at the last.

Fellow Australian O'Hern made his move late, picking up five birdies in a scorching six-hole stretch starting at the 11th.

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