first round of the Heineken Classic on Thursday -- but also reason for concern.
Els fired a superb 8-under-par 64 to lead by two shots over Mark Pilkington of Wales while Faldo's 67 left him tied for third with former Ryder Cup teammate Barry Lane, Australians Adam Scott and Peter Lonard and New Zealand amateur Eddie Lee.
Faldo, looking for his first win in almost five years and believing it could come soon after his 10th-place finish in last week's Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, was staggered by the change that has come over the sport.
"I'm amazed how they can keep developing drivers or balls that go 20 yards further, not just every couple of years but every six months it seems," Faldo said. "When does it stop?
"Par-5s now need to get longer and longer to be three-shotters. Someone like Ernie can drive 320 yards and carry a 3-wood 260 yards. That's 580 yards. Not long ago, it used to be 510 yards."
Faldo, a six-time major winner, said the new game is out of his league.
Els and playing partner Michael Campbell, who opened his bid for a third successive win in the event with a 68, both hit wedges into the 442-yard 18th. Pilkington did not even need that, hitting a lob wedge.
Scotland's Dean Robertson pulled out before the start with a hand injury suffered practicing on the hard turf. He hopes to be fit for next week's ANZ Championship in Sydney.