Johannesburg - With four holes to play in the second round of the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club on Friday, Ernie Els was staring elimination in the face.
Lying four-over par, it seemed likely the four-time major champion Els would miss the cut for only the fifth time in his 19 appearances at the Masters.
But it was then that the 44-year-old reigning Open champion dug deep, making eagle three on the par-five 15th and ending the round with a birdie on the 18th.
His score of two-over 74 for the round took him to one-over for the tournament and extended his stay in Augusta by two days.
Els said the turning point came at the par five 15th.
"I think the final four holes kind of saved my tournament a little bit. I eagled 15, chipping in from the top and managed a birdie on the 18th," said Els after his round.
"I am one over, I don't think that is going to be too awful at the end of the day, conditions are getting tougher now."
Els, who has twice finished runner-up at the Masters, said he hoped the final three holes had given him momentum going into the two final rounds.
"I have not yet quite hit my stride, but I am here for the weekend, which is good.
"I have not had a great year, but it is nice to try and find it in Augusta.
"It is a tough place to do that, but it is coming around and I thought conditions kept changing this morning so we had to keep adapting and it was quite difficult."
Els made the most of difficult conditions, with steady rain softening the greens.
The Big Easy birdied the second to move to two-under, but then dropped a shot at the third. Three bogeys in a row from the ninth saw him fall behind and in danger of missing out on the cut until he again found his rhythm on the final four holes.
Els, who will receive an invitation to the Masters for the next four years after winning the Open, is one of several players the wrong side of 40 that have made an impression at this tournament.
Els said he was pleased to be back at Augusta after missing out in 2012.
"I am 44 this year and have been here many, many years. It is kind of a blessing just to be here the next four years and so I will keep enjoying it and who knows, I might have a hot weekend and see what happens.
"But we are certainly getting on the other side of the rope now."
Els explained conditions on day two were a challenge.
"The conditions did not help me. It was difficult just to play a normal round of golf, you had to manufacture shots, you had to adapt to conditions. It was a difficult day.
Els felt he still had a chance of winning over the weekend.
"But now I am looking forward to the next two rounds. Anybody over the weekend will still have a chance.
"There is a good score out there, conditions should be getting better over the weekend. The course will be getting tougher, but there are some good rounds out there. I am not out of it."