Editor’s note: Ernie Els is writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2012, and this is his latest installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.
I just want to start this report by thanking all of you who kindly took the time to send me birthday wishes last week. It was fun reading all of your messages. It was a nice start to a week that ended in pretty spectacular fashion in Las Vegas for this year’s Els for Autism Golf Challenge Grand Finale. We set the bar pretty high last year, but somehow I think we topped it in 2012. What a weekend!
There are obviously a lot of people to whom Liezl and I would like to express our gratitude, so please forgive me while I take a moment to give them all a well-deserved mention. We couldn’t have done this without them.
First of all a huge thank you to our organizing sponsors SAP, Callaway, RBC, Wine Spectator and Trumpet Behavioral Health. Special thanks in particular to SAP, which hosted an amazing South African braai and awards dinner, and Breitling which hosted a VIP reception for our guests. We also had the support of so many other generous sponsors, which meant our finalists had some incredible prizes to play for.
Helping make this an extra special event for our finalists was the presence of friends and fellow TOUR professionals Nick Watney, Charley Hoffman and John Mallinger, along with top coach Claude Harmon, who all gave up their time to host a clinic for our golfers on Saturday. Over the weekend we were also pleased to welcome some special guests including baseball legend – and ‘Mr October’ himself – Reggie Jackson, and former Grand Slam tennis doubles champion Justin Gimelstob. Steve Sands from the Golf Channel did a great job as MC for the night. Thanks guys.
We had three wonderful venues for our golfers to enjoy so my thanks to everyone at Rio Secco, Bear’s Best and TPC Las Vegas and also to the staff and management at Caesars Palace. You looked after us wonderfully well.
Finally, of course, thank you to all the competitors – not just those who made it to Vegas but to everyone who entered regional events and took part in the fundraising. We set out at the start of the year with a $2.5 million target, which seemed ambitious, but by the halfway mark it started to look achievable. We still need to tally things up from Vegas, but we may have hit our target. It’s a phenomenal effort and it helps bring us ever closer to the launch of the Els Center of Excellence here in Florida.
Anyway, I was scheduled to travel direct from Vegas to Bermuda for this week’s PGA Grand Slam of Golf. It would have been the fourth time I’d played in this event, but unfortunately I sprained my left ankle a few days ago and, while it isn’t too serious and it should recover relatively quickly, I have been advised not to try and play on it.
I am bitterly disappointed not to be playing the Grand Slam. Bermuda made quite an impression on me last year; it’s such a beautiful island and it really lifts your spirits. It is a great reward for winning a major and something I have enjoyed in the past and was looking forward to again. Obviously I wish my fellow competitors the very best and hope that I will manage to qualify again next year.
Now I just need to rest up this week and make sure I’m ready for next week’s World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions Tournament in China. I’m told the ankle will be fine by then.
Editor’s note: Ernie Els is writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2012 and this is his most recent installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.
It was great to be back at CordeValle Golf Club for last week’s Frys.com Open. This was only the second time I’d played this tournament, but before then I’d done some corporate outings here for my sponsor SAP. It’s just a wonderful place to play golf and it’s great being able to stay on the property during tournament week. Obviously I wanted to play well to make it an even nicer experience and, for the most part, I did.
Actually, it was a similar performance to when I played here in 2011. The golf course was playing a little bit firmer than last time, but the pattern of my scoring was much the same. Seven out of my eight rounds in this event have been in the 60s and I’m 24-under par combined. Overall I hit a lot of quality shots out there and I could have easily been right in the mix. Both days over the weekend I started on the 10th tee and really got it going on the back nine, making a bunch of birdies, but both times I didn’t manage to carry that momentum through the front nine.
That was a bit disappointing, but as I say, I played well and it was an enjoyable week. It’s also my best finish since the Open. Right after that amazing week at Lytham it was such a hectic time for me, and although I was trying my best every week I teed it up, there were times when I felt like there wasn’t much fuel in the tank. Now, it’s like things are coming around again. My focus and my energy levels are better and all last week I definitely felt like my swing was in a nice groove. That gives me a lot to look forward to in my next couple of tournaments and obviously for next year as well.
There’s plenty to look forward to this week, too. It’s my birthday on Wednesday, so I’m guessing as a family we’ll all do something together. Then later in the week I’ll be hosting the 2012 Els for Autism Golf Challenge Grand Finale in Las Vegas. Last year’s inaugural event was a great success and Liezl and I had a really fantastic time with everyone. I’m sure it’s going to be more of the same this time around.
We’ve got a great format and there are some amazing prizes up for grabs.
Liezl and I kick things off with a welcome champagne reception and dinner at Caesars Palace on Friday night. Then on Saturday morning the golf action starts at three great courses – Rio Secco, Bear’s Best and TPC Las Vegas. Some of my fellow PGA TOUR pros are kindly hosting a coaching clinic at each venue and that’s followed by the Grand Finale tournament itself. Later, it’s back to Caesars Palace for an awards ceremony and a good old South Africa-style braai. Nice!
Anyway like I said, it should be a lot of fun. Once we’re done I’ll make sure we get some information and a gallery of images on the website. Hopefully it will inspire you to take part in the 2013 Els for Autism Golf Challenge.
Bye for now.
All times Eastern
Tuesday, Oct. 9
2 p.m. – Luke Guthrie
5 p.m. – Nicolas Colsaerts (subject to move earlier)
Wednesday, Oct. 10
Following 11:10 a.m. Pro-Am – Ernie Els
Following 11:40 a.m. Pro-Am – Bryce Molder
Editor’s note: Ernie Els is writing a weekly blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2012 and this is his latest installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com
I was at home in Florida all last week, basically dividing my time between relaxing and working on my game. Then at the weekend I switched into proper sport’s fan mode and like everyone else enjoyed watching the Ryder Cup on television. Obviously I’ve got friends on both teams, but whatever your allegiances it was hard to think of a more enthralling day’s golf than Sunday’s series of singles matches. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it – pure sporting drama of the best kind. Amazing stuff.
It’ll be fun to catch up with a few of the guys on the European team who I know are teeing it up in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. I’d say this is definitely one of my favorite stops and there are many reasons why that’s the case. Obviously, it’s a unique format, but for me the heart of this tournament’s appeal is the three great links courses that we get to play – St. Andrews Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. Everyone knows how much I love links golf.
The weather invariably plays a big part here, but all things being equal there’s no doubt in my mind Carnoustie is the toughest. I’d say the Old Course is my favurite of the three. They are all wonderful golf courses in their own right, though. I think my great friend Johann Rupert has done a fantastic job with this tournament and over the years it’s gone from strength to strength. You get the feeling that the Scottish public has really warmed to this event and it’s always a pleasure for us players to see so many real golf fans out there supporting us.
Another reason I love this week is I usually team up with my dad, as I am this year, and that’s special. We don’t get to spend much time together during the year and we don’t play much golf, either. This tournament kind of makes up for that, which is really nice. We haven’t won this thing yet, but Dad maybe needs a couple more shots on these golf courses and I need to play better. Maybe this year…who knows? We’ll certainly be trying our best, but also making sure we have some fun along the way.
That’s the thing here. It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere than a regular TOUR event and, although as professionals we never forget we’re here to compete and win, at the same time you try to embrace that whole pro-am vibe. I’ve got a lot of friends from other sports who tee it up every year and it’s fun seeing them.
All in all, I have a lot of fond memories from playing here over the years, including being called away in 2002 for a last-minute rush down to London for the birth of my son! I could never forget that 6 a.m. weekend wake-up call. It was a bit of a blur for a while, to be honest, but somehow I made it to the hospital in Guildford at 9.30 a.m. and Ben was born less than an hour later. It was a close-run thing.
The one memory I don’t have from this tournament is a win. I’ve come close a few times, but maybe winning the Open this year will be a good omen for me. Maybe I can do the ‘links double’. That would be extra special. Whatever happens I’m sure it’s going to be another great four or five days for my dad and me. You couldn’t really share this kind of experience in any other sport but golf and I cherish that.
I’ll write again soon.
Editor’s note: Ernie Els is writing a weekly blog for PGATOUR.COM. This is his most recent installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.
The TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola was my 21 st and final event on this year’s PGA TOUR schedule, so obviously I was hoping for a better week than I ended up having at East Lake. I didn’t drive the ball anywhere near well enough, especially the first three rounds, and if you miss fairways on this course you make life difficult for yourself. I played better on Sunday, which was good. In fact I had a nice round going but got a couple of ‘unplayables’ in bunkers to drop four shots in my final three holes. Shame.
Like I said, it was a disappointing way to end my PGA TOUR season, but at the same time 2012 was a step-up from last year so I have to take a lot of heart and satisfaction from that. Obviously I had the win this summer at Royal Lytham and also five other top-10s in the U.S. There were some weeks I’ll happily forget, but overall when I look back at the season I’d say the pattern of my scoring – my competitive rhythm as I often describe it – was much better than in 2011. All in all, it gives me a lot of optimism about the state of my game and what I can achieve next year.
You may have noticed that my usual caddie Ricci Roberts wasn’t on the bag at East Lake. He’s been in and out of hospital the last few weeks and has been diagnosed with a couple of blocked arteries in his leg. I spoke to him at the weekend and it seems it’s not as bad as they first thought, which is a relief. We’re wishing him well obviously. Ricci is as tough as they come and I’m sure he’ll be back very soon.
Before I wrap things up today I want to send my congratulations to Mark Williams who won the Sunshine Tour’s Big Easy Tour Championship last week at Els Club Copperleaf, shooting three under-par rounds. That’s a really solid effort because Copperleaf is a properly tough test of golf. Congratulations also to Teboho Sefatsa, who won this year’s Order of Merit, and to all of this year’s Big Easy Tour winners.
As I’ve said before, this is a wonderful format instigated by the Sunshine Tour and sponsored by my good friends at Stonehage. I commend them for their support for SA golf. This series is all about providing more competitive playing opportunities for our nation’s up-and-coming golfers and this is just the platform they need in order to make the step up to full tour status. That’s certainly what we all hope for.
I’m next in competitive action at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland next week, but I’ll write again before then.
Bye for now.
Editor’s note: Ernie Els has been writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2012, and this is his latest installment. For more information about the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com .
It’s all up for grabs at this week’s TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake. That’s the nature of the FedExCup Playoffs. It makes things pretty exciting for the players and the fans.
Someone on my team brought to my attention a story on the PGA TOUR’s website last week, which explained what events would have to pan-out at East Lake in order for any of the 30 players teeing it up to win the FedExCup. In theory, anyone can win this thing, including me. Remember last year’s winner Bill Haas was in 25 th place on the points list coming into East Lake and he won it, so anything is possible. I’m in 22 nd spot.
It’s complicated, so I won’t go into all of the possible scenarios right now. Seriously, that could take a while! In a nutshell I have to win the tournament and the leading players on the points list all have to have a bad week. That seems unlikely, but as I said, you never know. I just need to go out there and focus on my own game.
My record on this golf course is pretty solid. This will be my 16 th career appearance in the TOUR Championship, although to be fair not all of them have been here at East Lake, and I’ve had a bunch of top-10 finishes. I think it’s eight in total now. This is one of those golf courses that I do enjoy playing. It suits my eye, as they say, and I think my scoring over the years reflects that.
Every week of the year I play to win and obviously this tournament is no exception. I’d love to add this one to my cv. The good thing is I had a nice rest at home after the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick and, to be honest, I really needed it. Only towards the end of the week did I get out there and do some light practice. Everything is in good shape. I feel fresh mentally and physically. I’m pretty excited about this week.
I’m proud to say there is a Tour Championship of a different kind taking place this week at Els Club Copperleaf, one of our design projects back in South Africa. This week’s tournament is the conclusion of the Sunshine Tour Big Easy series, which consisted of 11 events all over the country. Just like here at East Lake, this week’s event features the top-30 players on the money list. I send them all my best wishes for a great week. I know they’re going to enjoy the golf course. It’s a really good test.
In case you didn’t know, the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by my good friends at Stonehage was launched last year and the idea is it gives a wider cross section of young professionals the opportunity to play more competitive golf. I really commend the Sunshine Tour on this initiative and of course I am honored that they put my name to the tour. It’s a great format and I’m sure it will continue to go from strength to strength, helping develop our nation’s young golfing talent and giving them a stepping stone towards full Tour status.
If you’re interested we’ve got full coverage of the tournament elsewhere on this website; just click here.
Okay, that’s it for now.
The top 30 in FedExCup points are headed to East Lake for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Here’s a look at Ernie Els, one of the 30 players who will contend for the FedExCup title.
SCENARIOS TO WIN FEDEXCUP: For Els to win the
FedExCup, he MUST win the TOUR Championship and have the following
scenarios fall into place:
> Rory McIlroy (No. 1) finishes in a 3-way tie for 13th or worse
> Tiger Woods (No. 2) finishes in T-5 or worse
> Nick Watney (No. 3) finishes 3-way tie for 3rd or worse
> Phil Mickelson (No. 4) finishes T-3 or worse
> Brandt Snedeker (No. 5) finishes in a 3-way tie for 2nd or worse
> Louis Oosthuizen (No. 6) finishes T-2 or worse
> *Tie for the FedExCup
Click here for scenarios of every player
SEASON IN REVIEW: Els has rebounded from last year's lackluster season in a big way. In his first nine starts, he had two close calls -- finishing a shot shy of the playoff at the Transitions Championship, then losing one at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Els' crowning achievement, though, was his second British Open title -- and fourth major -- at Royal Lytham. Els started the final round six strokes behind Adam Scott but closed with a 32 and birdied the final hole to become the first male member of the World Golf Hall of Fame to win a major after being inducted. -- Helen Ross
PATH TO TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP: Here’s a look at
Els’ results in the first three events of the 2012 FedExCup
Click here for Playoffs Tracker of every player.
|FEC ranking after event||
PREVIOUS FEDEXCUP FINISHES: Here is how Els has finished in previous Playoffs appearances:
EAST LAKE HISTORY: This is Els’s 15th start in THE TOUR Championship, but his first since 2010, when he tied for seventh. Since the FedExCup began in 2007, Els' best finish at East Lake is a tie for sixth in 2008.
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Fred Albers, on-course
correspondent for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, provides a quick look at
Ernie told me at the Accenture World Match Play Championship: "I'm putting so well right now, I might go back to the conventional putter." I get the feeling he is still enjoying his Open Championship win, and I wonder if he can muster up the concentration for another win. Ernie's been struggling with his wedges and working on turning through the ball better with his hips.
PLAYER PAGE: Click here for more on Ernie Els
Now it’s your turn. How do you think Els will fare at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola?