US Open
US Open
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US Open 2005
Ernie Els seeking third US Open title
Pinehurt's greens will be key challenge
Reteif Goosen quietly confident of chances
Padraig Harrington says Pinehurst harder than Augusta
Pinehurst will prove to be a tough test
USGA promise a fair test for US Open
Tiger Woods in confident mood
Phil Mickelson returns to a special Pinehurst
Padraig Harrington hoping to break through
Payne Stewart's image on 72nd hole flag
Retief Goosen looking for title defence
Payne Stewart forever linked to Pinehurst
Tiger Woods set on new records
Leading contenders for the 2005 US Open

Ernie Els seeking third US Open title

With two U.S. Open titles and 13 other PGA Tour wins prominent on his resume, American golf courses have provided a happy hunting ground for Ernie Els.

Not this year though.

A three-time winner on the 2005 European Tour, Els arrived at the Pinehurst Resort for this week's U.S. Open still searching for his first success in the United States this season.

Playing last week at the Congressional Country Club, the venue for his second U.S. Open triumph in 1997, the world number three showed signs of transforming his fortunes at the Booz Allen Classic.

The smooth-swinging South African looked poised to return to the winner's circle on Sunday after reeling off four consecutive birdies on the front nine.

He then fell apart after the turn, mixing one birdie with four bogeys and a double-bogey on 18 to return a one-over-par 72 and finish in a tie for seventh.

"I think I had a pretty decent week last week," Els said on Tuesday. "Obviously I got myself right in contention, and I played a very poor back nine, but I played 63 good holes last week.

"So that's a positive sign. I feel like I'm driving the ball well. I'm hitting my iron shots really well.

"My game is pretty close to really where I want it to be.

"The results in the U.S. haven't really been there yet, but I've just got to be patient, I think. I was patient enough last week, and I've just got to stay patient. I think good things will come."

While Els boasts an impressive U.S. Open record with seven top-10 finishes and two wins, Pinehurst has not been one of his success stories.

When the event was staged at famed designer Donald Ross's masterpiece in 1999, the South African failed to make the weekend for just the second time in a dozen U.S. Opens.

Some small equipment changes, a move to a new management company and niggling injuries have all combined to affect his concentration this season but the "Big Easy" says his mind is focused on just one thing this week.

"I'm ready to play," said Els. "I only played two rounds in '99 and the course is basically very similar.

"The course is what it is. You don't have to trick it much with this golf course. It's a great test of golf.

"In '99 I wasn't quite on my game, and I wasn't hitting it in the fairways, and obviously that cost me.

"I went through a couple of changes the last couple of weeks. I felt like I was playing okay, I just couldn't quite concentrate 100 percent it felt like.

"I feel great now. I feel like my whole attention span can really just look at my golf game now, trying to get better now, trying to start winning golf tournaments again."