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 wwwernieels.com.
I play to win so there is always a slight touch of disappointment when I have an opportunity coming down the stretch on Sunday and I don't pull it off. But on this occasion those emotions are massively outweighed by the many positives in last week’s World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. On the whole this was a very strong week for me. I played well and I rolled the ball really nicely on the greens. Tied-second on 19 under is easily my best finish since winning the Open back in July. I'll take a lot of satisfaction from that.
Anyway, what’s that they say about beware the injured golfer? I came into the HSBC Champions having sprained my ankle the week before and then been forced to rest-up for most of the week leading up to the tournament. I even had my trainer here with me in China. But it didn’t affect my game, that’s for sure.
Okay, I made a bit of a slow start on Thursday, but then I really got it going in Friday’s second round. I was 8 under through 12 holes and any time you do that you’re thinking really, really low. I just didn’t quite make the putts coming in, but still, 63 was a great score – my lowest round of the year by a couple of shots. It got me right in the mix and, the way I was playing, I was looking forward to the challenge.
At the weekend I raced to the turn in 31 shots on both days and obviously I was thinking “just keep pushing, keep making birdies,” but I couldn’t quite post the number I needed. On Saturday I just made one bad swing on No. 15 and it cost me a visit to the water hazard. In the final round, I couldn’t get the putts to drop coming home.
But as I said earlier, this was a strong week for me and I really enjoyed myself out there. I felt like I was swinging the club pretty nicely and for the most part the putter was working like a dream. Actually, it’s the best feelings I’ve had on the greens since that wonderful back nine at Lytham – the hole almost looked like a bucket and I was just pouring in the putts. That’s how it used to feel all the time!
So I guess it was quite ironic, then, that there was much talk last week in China about the R&A and the USGA possibly banning the belly putter. I was asked for my views and, to be honest, the more you look at it the more complicated it gets. I’d say this issue has a fair bit of mileage in it yet, so there’s not much point in me speculating further right now, but of course it’s a big deal. You’re talking about people’s livelihoods. Some guys have used the belly putter virtually all their lives. We’ll just have to see what happens. I’ll keep using it for the time being.
That’s about it for this blog. I’ll update you very soon on my plans for the next four or five weeks and what tournaments I’ll be playing in.
Bye for now, though.