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Tour News (posted 3rd July 1998)

Els nearly knocks out caddy in fit of rage

Druids Glen, Dublin - World number two Ernie Els nearly injured his caddy on Friday when he threw his club in a fit of rage at the Murphy's Irish Open.

The normally phlegmatic Els, 28, lost his cool in the second round when he drove into the infamous Wicklow rough at the 10th.

He angrily hurled an iron several metres back to his bag.

"I've had to apologise to my caddy after nearly hitting him at the 10th," said the South African.

"It was a good job he's a fast mover and took cover because I nearly took his head off."

Els added to his first mistake, running up a six on the par-four 15th, this time putting his ball in the water with his approach.

"I seem to be getting irritated in the last couple of weeks, maybe because of worry over my back injury before the U.S. Open," he said.

On Wednesday Els said he should not have tried to defend his U.S. Open title two weeks ago because of the injury. He said he was on the mend now.

Els calmed down later in the match to get back from two damaging double-bogeys and stay in with a chance of lifting his first Irish title.

He stayed in the hunt when he found two birdies in the last five holes to stay level-par 142 after a second 71.

"I'm still well in this event because six shots is nothing bearing in mind players can run up double-bogeys at almost any turn -- just like mine."