Els finished the second round with a 3-under-par 69 and is at 12-under 132 after 36 holes. Alexander Levy, who turned in a 68 Friday, and Matthew Baldwin, with a second-round 69, are tied for second at 11-under.
Danny Willett, who matched the round of the day with a 65, and Bernd Wiesberger, after shooting a second-round 68, are tied for fourth two strokes back of Els.
Willett and Wiesberger grabbed the lead before Els began his second round. While Els birdied the sixth hole, his tee shot on the 441-yard, par-4 seventh ended up in the water and Els took a 6 on the hole.
But Els had birdies on the four odd-numbered holes over Nos. 9-15, dropping a 20-foot birdie putt to complete the run, and get back in front. He had a bogey at the 16th but rebounded with a 4 at the par-5 18th.