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In Brief: Slick Els holds on to lead in Munich

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South Africa's Ernie Els reacts as he walks down the ninth fairway during a practice round for the 2013 U.S. Open golf championship at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania June 11, 2013.  REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES  - Tags: SPORT GOLF)

South Africa's Ernie Els reacts as he walks down the ninth fairway during a practice round for the 2013 U.S. Open golf championship at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF)

South Africa's Ernie Els reacts as he walks down the ninth fairway during a practice round for the 2013 U.S. Open golf championship at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF)

GOLF: A birdie at the last saw Ernie Els retain his place at the top of the leaderboard on day two of the BMW International Open in Munich.

The South African began the day with a one-stroke lead on nine under, only to see it overtaken by morning starters Danny Willett, the defending champion, and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.

After five successive pars a birdie took him to 10 under, but he immediately dropped back with a double-bogey six at the 441-yard next.

The 43-year-old, who will defend his British Open title at Muirfield next month, regained that stroke at the ninth and added four more birdies coming home – with his four at the 568-yard last enough to take him ahead of the pack after a bogey at the 16th had appeared to impair his progress.

He finished the day 12 under and one ahead of England's Matthew Baldwin and Frenchman Alexander Levy, who hit rounds of 69 and 68 respectively.

Willett's 65 lifted him to 10 under and well placed to retain his crown while home favourite Martin Kaymer, struggling with illness, is a shot further back after a 71.

Best of the Irish was Dubliner Peter Lawrie who lies four shots off the lead after carding a round of 69, while Corkman David Higgins was a further two shots back after carding a 71.

Shane Lowry is also six shots off the lead after carding a round of 69.

 

RAFA: I LOVE GRASS

TENNIS: Rafael Nadal was all smiles as he insisted he loved playing on grass despite being handed the toughest of draws when Wimbledon begins on Monday.

If Nadal is to win a third Wimbledon title he will be required, if everything goes to schedule, to beat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, Andy Murray in the semis and world number one Novak Djokovic in the final.

But when the Spaniard planted his feet on a grass court for the first time in competitive action in almost 12 months yesterday he appeared out to prove the All England Club were wrong to hand him a number five seeding, a decision which Murray's former coach Brad Gilbert has called a "100 per cent joke".

Nadal promptly resumed winning ways with a tight 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (7/4) victory against Japan's Kei Nishikori in the exhibition BNP Paribas Tennis Classic at London's Hurlingham Club.

And immediately after his only Wimbledon warm-up the man who once did not care for grass said: "It is always a pleasure to play on grass.

"I always love it. I'm happy to be back playing here. It's a very nice atmosphere."

Nadal faces Belgium's Steve Darcis in the first round at Wimbledon.

 

BRAD'S TOUR HINT

CYCLING: Bradley Wiggins has hinted he may never ride the Tour de France again as he appeared to cede Team Sky's leadership battle to Chris Froome.

Wiggins will not defend his Tour title this summer after a suffering a knee injury in the wake of the chest infection which ended his Giro d'Italia hopes.

That has cleared the road for Froome, 28, to go into this year's tour as Team Sky's unquestioned leader and the clear favourite to win the race.

"For me, it was always about winning the tour," Wiggins said. "I've done that. If I'm honest, I don't think I'm prepared to make those sacrifices again that I made last year, with my family and so on.

"I've achieved what I've achieved. I'm incredibly happy with that."


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