BMW International Open: Ernie Els delighted after shooting first round of 63
Last Updated: 21/06/13 7:21am
Ernie Els will defend his Open Championship title at Muirfield in July
Ernie Els managed his lowest score for seven months at the BMW International Open in Munich, taking a one shot first-round lead.
The nine-under par 63 was just one shy of the course record and was the British Open champion's best round since last November's WGC-HSBC Champions event in China.
The South African was relieved to be playing on a more forgiving course than the "torture chamber" at Merion in last week's US Open.
"It was a very nice round and I haven't shot that number for quite a while," he said.
"Today was like walking out of the torture chamber that was last week's US Open and walking onto a nice parkland golf course."
Els finished joint fourth at the US Open and while the going was somewhat friendlier than in Pennsylvania, he still felt he played well in Bavaria, before warning that more of the same was required before he could think about winning the event.
"Of course, you still have to hit the shots but I felt like I was starting to swing the club last weekend at Merion, and I'm lucky enough I could bring it here to Munich," he added.
"But even though I am now leading, it doesn't really matter much until Sunday, but if you get into the race, so to speak, early on in the tournament, it's nice to be right in the hunt."
The world No 20 also revealed that he will be embarking on a number of trips to Scotland's Muirfield course in the coming weeks ahead of July's Open Championship, where he will look to defend his crown.
"My good friend, Mr (Johann) Rupert and I are going up next Tuesday to Muirfield to check it out," said Els.
"So I'll go up every week for the next three weeks and get going with my preparations."