March 4 2013
Editor's note: Ernie Els is writing a blog periodically for PGATOUR.COM in 2013 and this is his most recent installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.
PGA National certainly lived up to its reputation as one of the tougher golf courses that we play all year on the PGA TOUR and actually the playing conditions changed quite a lot as the week went on. When we arrived the golf course was wet and lush with receptive greens, but by the weekend the wind had dried the course out and it was playing quite firm.
Either way, you’ve got a serious test on your hands. We were getting ‘mud balls’ the first couple of rounds – to be honest, I felt like it was probably wet enough to have lift and clean on both days – and then obviously when the course dried out and the wind got up this is the type of layout where you don’t need to do much wrong to make a bogey or a double. It’s really tough. You only have to look at the scores out there to see evidence of that. Only three guys broke par for their final 36 holes, which pretty much says it all.
Despite finishing tied-46th I’d say my game is in pretty decent shape. Not making a lot of putts, but burning a lot of edges so that could easily turn around. You know how this game is. Overall, though, I just need to sharpen things up and get my scoring pattern a bit more consistent. At the moment, it’s too much up and down for my liking. Just got to keep working hard.
On the upside, it was good to have my old caddie Ricci Roberts back on the bag. He’s had some health issues this past six months and probably still has a bit of work to do on that front. We just don’t know how that’s going to go, so for this year we’ve agreed that Ricci shares caddie duties with Colin Byrne who’s been on the bag while Ricci was away. They’re both great guys, I’ve known them both for a long time and they’re obviously very experienced, so it’s kind of a nice situation to have. We’ll see how things go this season.
Just before we talk about this week, I want to congratulate Dawie Van Der Walt who won the inaugural Tshwane Open at The Els Club Copperleaf in South Africa at the weekend. It’s the first time an Ernie Els Design golf course has hosted a European Tour event and I hear the course was in great shape, so well done to all the guys out there. It was nice to see three home players at the top of the leaderboard. One of our former Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation members James Kamte also had a strong week. Good news all round, then!
So, moving on to this week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Doral, another of my favorite stops of the year. I love the straightforward playability of this golf course. It’s a well-balanced test. There are holes where you need to fade it, others that require a draw. You’ve got monster par 4s – including the 18th, which is one of the toughest holes on the PGA TOUR – and you’ve got short par 4s, a nice mixture of par 3s and par 5s. You need to be able to work the ball and have all the shots to score well. Personally, over the years I’ve preferred it when the wind gets up a bit and the golf course plays firm and fast.
That’s what the conditions were like when I won my two tournaments here at Doral, most recently in the 2010 CA Championship when I made 23 birdies and just five bogeys – that’s pretty good going on this golf course. Also back in 2002 I won the Genuity Championship here, which I’ll always remember as one of the best performances of my career. Let’s see if we can make it three wins!
Before all that I’m starting my week playing in the Seminole member-guest day, which is always a lot of fun. Playing this wonderful old Florida golf course is also a nice warm-up for the serious business at Doral. I’m looking forward to it.