Editor’s note: Ernie Els will be writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2012. Here is his most recent installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.
After six straight weeks on the road, and a lot of physical and emotional energy expended, it was important to have a low-key week off with the family. I was pretty drained after Kiawah, so I spent a few days just chilling out. I can’t ever sit still for long, though. Towards the middle of the week I was hitting balls and working on my game. I’m ready to go again and excited about this year’s FedExCup Playoffs series.
I remember this time last year I was writing about my FedExCup campaign being a case of survival. It felt like a kind of desperation and, in a sadistic sort of way, it was almost good for me to feel those emotions. I’ve always been a fighter, but that kind of situation really makes you dig deep and I think it’s one of the factors that contributed to me working so hard this past 12 months and turning my game around.
Saying all that, I prefer my situation this year! (I am) just outside the top-10 in the points list. Because of the way the FedEx Cup is structured, with massively increased points on offer through the Playoffs series, things can change quickly and quite dramatically. Still, I feel my current position gives me a decent platform to make a good run at this thing.
Really I felt like the first three years we played the FedExCup it kind of came and went without me making much of an impression on things. Then in 2010 I came into The Barclays in the No.1 spot but didn’t perform that well in the Playoffs. By the time we got to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola I was pretty much out of the hunt.
Of course I want to do much better this year. As I said a few weeks ago, my win at Lytham has given me almost a new lease of life. It’s great to have that major in the bag, but I don’t want to take my foot of the gas. It’s the opposite, in fact. Right now I feel extremely motivated to keep pushing and try to play my best golf.
The Barclays this year is at Bethpage Black. This is a great, great venue. Being situated on Long Island it gets some big crowds. And New Yorkers are a great sporting crowd. I just love that whole New York attitude. It makes for a great buzz. I remember playing with Phil Mickelson here in the first two rounds of the U.S. Open in 2009 and he’s a definite favorite in these parts. The crowds were vocal, to say the least! I didn’t play well that week, but it was still fun to be a part of that experience.
I certainly liked the layout and the way they set-up the course that year. It’s a bit of a beast, to be honest with you. Five of the par 4s are more than 475 yards and the 13 th is a 600-yard plus par 5. At the end of the day, though, you’re just trying to shoot the lowest number you can. It’ll be interesting to see how they set it up this week, but I think we can assume it’s going to be a tough test.
Anyway, to finish this week here’s just a quick recap of the rules to this FedExCup Playoffs series. The top 125 tee it up this week in The Barclays, then the field is reduced to the top 100 for the following week’s Deutsche Bank Championship and then it’s the top 70 for the BMW Championship. After that the top 30 progress to East Lake for the TOUR Championship. There’s a points re-set at the start of that week to spice things up a bit. But you knew that already, right?
Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll write again soon.