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Els Maintains Lead in BMW International Open


Ernie Els followed up his opening 9-under 63 with a 69 to retain the 36-hole lead in the BMW International Open. The European Tour event began Thursday at the Munich Golf Club in Germany.

After posting seven birdies and an eagle in the first round, the 43-year-old South African had a bit tougher time Friday, carding six birdies, a bogey and a double on the par-4 seventh hole.

He stands at 12-under 132, a shot ahead of England's Matthew Baldwin (69) and France's Alexander Levy (68).

Even though he's atop the leaderboard, Els, a four-time major winner, knows there's a long way to go. "There's so much golf to be played. If you fall out of the lead, if you're not leading after three rounds, it doesn't really mean much at all late Sunday," he said. "So you just want to stay in the race and keep trying to go forward."

Added the World Golf Hall of Fame member, "I didn't feel a lot of energy today for some reason, especially on the front nine for the first 12 holes or so," Els said. "I don't know, maybe it's the jet-lag or age or something. I made an absolute mess of two holes - 16 was just an absolute mess and seven. You take those really big mistakes away and then I had a really good round."

Els will be seeking his fifth major when he plays in the Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland in mid-July. Golf's "Big Easy" is the defending champion.

Two strokes behind Els in a tie for fourth are Austria's Bernd Wiesberger (68) and England's Danny Willett (65).

Sharing sixth at 135 are Sweden's Alex Noren (71), Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez (67), England's Tommy Fleetwood (69) and Germans Marcel Siem (68) and Martin Kaymer (71).

Other 36-hole totals include an 8-under 136 by Peter Uihlein. Fellow American Dustin Johnson has carded rounds of 66 and 71 and is another stroke down the leaderboard.

The weekend cut was set at 3-under 141. Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, a 2013 inductee in the Golf Hall of Fame, carded two straight 71s to miss the cut by a shot.

For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2013/tournamentid=2013048/leaderboard/index.html.