'It's hard to putt when you've got snakes in your head' - Els


Ernie Els said it is "hard to putt when you have got snakes in your head" as the four-time major champion struggled to explain just what went wrong after starting the Masters with a shocking nine.

Els made Masters history for all the wrong reasons on Thursday when he six-putted the par-four first to record the highest opening-hole score in 80 editions of the tournament.

The Hall of Famer chipped from off the green to within three feet of the hole, but what looked set to be a routine par turned out to be a nightmare for Els in his 22nd Masters appearance.

Speaking afterwards, a stunned Els - who to his credit rallied to card a first-round 80 - told reporters: "It's hard to putt when you've got snakes in your head.

"I couldn't putt with a stick. You make some stuff up in your brain, you know, it's difficult. It's something that, what holds you back from doing your normal thing? I don't know what it is.

"I can go to that putting green now and make 20 straight three-footers. And then you get on the course and you feel a little different and you can't do what you normally do. So it's pretty difficult."

Els added: "I couldn't get the putter back. I was standing there, I've got a three-footer, I've made thousands of three-footers and I just couldn't take it back.

"And then I just kind of lost count after. I mean, the whole day was a grind. I tried to fight. I'm hitting the ball half decent and I can't make it from two feet.

"I missed from two feet on 18 and a four-footer on 17. When you count them up, it's too many shots just out there, just on the green. So it's very difficult. I'm not sure where I'm going from here. So, I don't know. We'll see."

Els - a runner-up at Augusta in 2000 and 2004 - and his embarrassing start hit the headlines on the opening day and it did not go unnoticed by his peers, namely defending champion Jordan Spieth, who tops the leaderboard at six under.

Asked for his thoughts on a player who had taken six putts on one green, Spieth said: "I watched it. I was down with ESPN and they actually showed it.

"I feel obviously bad for Ernie. They then showed his highlight of making about a 35-footer on number five, so it's just a crazy game sometimes. It's obviously in your head.

"I've certainly had my moments, everybody has, from short range, where they just are not confident in where they are starting it.  And on Augusta National's greens with the wind blowing, it's a place you certainly want to be comfortable."