May 27 2013
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’s always special coming back to Wentworth and teeing it up in Europe’s flagship tournament. We had an unbelievable field, probably the best in many years, which was great to see. The turnout from the crowds, even in the worst of the weather, was incredible. These fans really love their golf here. Also, I send my congratulations to Matteo (Manassero) on a great victory. I was paired with him in Saturday’s third round and he is a wonderful young player.
Anyway, part of the plan early last week was to fly up to Muirfield for the day, but we put that off as Liezl and I were invited to the European Tour dinner on Tuesday night and actually that was a lot of fun. They ran a video of the back nine at Lytham last summer, which brought back some nice memories. It now looks like we’ll probably have a window in my schedule in the early part of July to go up to Muirfield and play a practice round.
My first round at Wentworth was up and down just like the wild weather, a mixture of every score from 2 to 6. It was that kind of day – blustery, cold, wet and occasionally even sunny. As it happened, level par was a reasonable score. It was certainly one of those days where you could have shot 75 or 76 and not played any different. It was a battle out there.
Conditions were challenging on Friday as well. It was cold and wet; the breeze was up again. Good practice for the Open! To be honest, it’s not a lot of fun when it’s like that, but we’re professionals. You’ve got to grind it out and try to post a decent score. It’s the same for everyone out there. I felt like I played okay and it was nice to finish with a birdie to break 70.
That put me in a good position going into the weekend, but on Saturday my game just wasn’t quite there. I started to play a bit better towards the end of my round, but a level par 72 left me with a lot to do on Sunday.
The good thing was, I found something in my final round and played a really nice back nine to shoot 67. My swing felt good and the putter warmed up a bit, too. It was nice to finally feel like I was playing decent golf and generating some momentum. Hopefully I can carry that into this week’s Memorial Tournament and get some good form going this summer.
Before we move on to this week’s events, there’s just time for a quick word about the announcement by the R&A and the USGA confirming the ban of the anchored putting stroke. I always felt it was going to happen, so it’s no real surprise. I do believe the ruling bodies are looking out for the best interests of the game and although the arguments will run and run, we are where we are. They’ve made their decision and we are going to have to play ball.
Obviously I’ve been using the belly putter for just over a year, but already this season I’ve played a tournament with the short putter and I’ve practiced with it a fair bit back home at The Bear’s Club in Florida. I’m in a much better place now than I was 18 months ago and I genuinely feel like I can get back to using the short putter again and have some success with it.
Still, that’s some way down the line. Right now I’m focusing on this week’s Memorial, a tournament I won back in 2004. It’s always been one of my favorite stops on the PGA TOUR and it’s one of the best-conditioned courses we play all year. Everything about this tournament is executed beautifully.
Jack’s made a few changes here over the years, but I still feel this is a course that fits my eye. The fairways are quite generous so you can be somewhat aggressive off the tee. Going into the greens is where you can be a bit creative, shaping shots in there depending on the wind or the pin position, and you can make some putts here because the greens are perfect. I had one of the best putting weeks of my life when I won in 2004, just 100 putts for four rounds. I’ll try to draw on those good memories this week. I putted nicely at Wentworth so all in all there are a lot of positive vibes coming in here.
Bye for now.