Bay Hill: South African Ernie Els made a late push for a place at the Masters with a five-under-par 67 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Saturday.   

Els, who has slipped out of the world's top 50 ranked players and has not earned an exemption to Augusta, would gain a slot with victory this week or at the upcoming PGA event in Houston.   

The three-times major-winner could, possibly, also break into the top 50 rankings with an outright third or a tied second at Bay Hill -- although that calculation would depend on the performances of players elsewhere in the world this weekend.   

The 42-year-old Els has not missed the Masters since his first appearance in 1994, but he said he was not stressing over his participation.   

"I haven't had a look (at the rankings) to be honest.  I know I've got to...almost win or something like that.   

"But if I'm in, I'm in and if I'm not, I'm just glad my game is coming around. Whatever happens, I feel like I can have a good year now. I feel like the hard work is starting to pay off," he said.   

There has been no indication that tournament organisers intend to hand Els an easy route to Augusta with a special exemption and the South African says he would not push for one.   

"It's an invitational. So you can be invited, but we all know we have to qualify for it, and that's that. I'm certainly not going to be lobbying for it, and that's that.     

"I haven't played well the last 18 months or so, and I am in the position where I am. That's fine. As I say, it's the invitation, it's their tournament, whatever they want," he said.   

Els' last win on the PGA Tour came at Bay Hill two years ago but he has struggled for form since and believes it is only now that he is seeing signs of getting back to his best.   

"I've been through the mill, believe me. Almost two years now, I've really been tested with the game. I guess when you get to my age, I had a pretty smooth career. The last 18 months has been really difficult.     

"I have to really dig deep just to stay in the game, and now I'm really feeling like I'm coming around again. I feel like my game is coming around and hitting it nicely and starting to see some putts fall. So I've got some hope again."