Editor's note: Ernie Els is writing a weekly blog for PGATOUR.COM this year and here is his latest installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.
I was really looking forward to going back to Doral, especially having missed this tournament last year. It’s a special place. I’ve been playing there since 1994 and won twice. When you think of all the great champions at Doral, to have my name on that list is obviously very special.
The week didn’t go too great, though, mainly because my right hip was causing me problems again. It’s been bugging me for a while now and then it really went into spasm on Thursday morning. I was on the first tee thinking 'maybe I shouldn’t be starting this round.' Anyway, I tried to play through it, but it’s not feeling right. I’ve got to get this sorted, which is the reason I had to withdraw from this week’s tournament in Tampa Bay.
The only outing I’ll have this week is travelling up to Augusta National on Tuesday to have a gentle walk around the course, but other than that I’ll have to pretty much rest-up for most of this week. Doctors orders, as they say.
Still, there was plenty of good news coming out of Doral. We did a joint press conference with Donald Trump at the start of the week to make some important announcements about the Els for Autism Foundation.
First of all we launched this year’s Els for Autism Golf Challenge. There is plenty of information on our homepage right now, so I don’t need to go into too much detail here, but suffice to say we owe considerable thanks to Mr. Trump for his support. Six of our 22 regional qualifiers are being hosted at Trump courses around the United States, which is a huge boost to our fundraising campaign. They are fine golf courses and Mr. Trump is generously giving us a break on the rent, which saves us a lot of money in fees that we would otherwise have had to pay to other golf clubs. We’d spoken in the past about this and Mr. Trump always said he would help us. He’s truly a man of his word.
Of course, that means more cash goes directly towards funding the proposed Els for Autism Center of Excellence, which is moving ever closer to becoming a reality. We’ve raised a lot of money already and with the help of Mr. Trump and our sponsors and all the people who take part in these events, we’re going to get this thing done. It is going to be an amazing 30,000 square foot facility, which will be the first of its kind in the world. These are special kids and they need some really special help, and that’s what this Center is all about.
For the past few years we’ve started the ball rolling on our fundraising campaign with the now traditional Els for Autism Pro-Am held at PGA National, which took place on Monday and as always was organized by a good friend of mine Marvin Shanken, the publisher of Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado.
The day was a huge success. With the way my hip was feeling I had to take things pretty easy, but luckily we had the support of many of my fellow TOUR professionals including Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Keegan Bradley, Bo Van Pelt and many more. This report is another opportunity for me to thank everyone involved. Seriously guys, we really appreciate your support.
We’ll have more news and a gallery of images from the Els for Autism Pro-Am published on the website later this week, but until then, bye for now.