Editor's note: Ernie Els is writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2013 and this is his latest installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.
It was so great being back at the Masters again and, to be honest, it means the world to me that I'm here for the next four years as well. Also I could not be happier for my buddy Adam Scott. I said after Lytham that he'd win majors and he didn't waste much time doing that!
Personally, I would love to have arrived at Augusta with a bit more game and in the practice rounds I definitely didn't feel quite as sharp as I wanted to be, but I was excited about the challenge. There's nothing quite like this place. It tests every single part of your game.
The first couple of days it was a case of fighting hard in tough conditions and a strong finish on Friday, when I played the final four holes in 3-under par, got me well inside the cut line. I hadn’t yet hit my stride – not properly – but I was here for the weekend so that was good.
In the third round conditions got tougher, which you kind of expect here. The wind was only 6 or 7 miles an hour but the greens were firmer than in the first couple of rounds and it was difficult to get at a lot of the pins. I’m not surprised that only seven players broke 70. I had a decent round going for a while and after 12 holes I was looking to finish under par. A poor finish killed me, though. Those last four holes effectively spoiled my chances of winning.
I felt like I had a low number in me, though, so my goal on Sunday was to go out there and enjoy myself. I played nicely again and it was satisfying to break 70. It’s a while since I’ve done that at Augusta and it put me just on the fringes of the top 10. Overall I’d say my Masters week was a reflection of my year so far – plenty of good golf, but just wasn’t able to put a decent run of scoring together. I really do feel like I’m heading in the right direction, though.
Anyway, I left Augusta on Sunday afternoon and headed over to Hilton Head to get ready for this week’s RBC Heritage. This is one of the great tournament venues in golf, with a wonderful golf course and a great history. Royal Bank of Canada, a company for which I’m proud to be an ambassador, became the sponsor last year and I’ve got to know the guys pretty well. They do a fantastic job in golf and I’m really pleased to say that in recent years they have also shown great commitment in their support of Els for Autism.
This week they’re really stepping it up, as well. The tournament organizers have teamed up with our team at Els for Autism on a number of initiatives to raise awareness of autism and raise funds to help build the Els Center of Excellence. In addition, RBC Heritage has designated Friday as the tournament’s Autism Awareness Day and players, fans and media are being encouraged to wear blue in order to indicate their support for those affected by autism spectrum disorders. I’ve even turned my traditional lion headcover blue!
Honestly, since Liezl and I announced that our son Ben was touched by autism five years ago we have been blown away by the support we have received, especially from the golf community. We are extremely touched by this latest show of support from the RBC Heritage, whose team is throughout April helping our efforts to use golf as a platform to raise awareness of the disorder and promote the importance of early detection. The RBC Heritage has always been one of my favorite stops on the PGA TOUR and one that I always try to bring the whole family to. This year I think it’s going to be even more special.
I love this golf course, as well. This is a shot-maker’s course. You need to work your golf ball to score well and, when you miss one of those small greens, you need a deft touch to give yourself a chance of getting up and down. That’s always been a strong part of my game, which I guess is one of the reasons I’ve had so many top-10 finishes in this tournament. Still searching for my first win here, though, and obviously I’d love that to happen this week.
I’ll write again soon and tell you all about it.