Ernie Els fired a Sunday 69 to finish tied for fourth at Merion. (Cannon/Getty Images)
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
Any time you have an opportunity to win a major championship and don’t manage to pull it off there is inevitably a sense of disappointment, but at the same time you have to try to balance it out with the obvious positives. To play well and to compete on a tough, tough track such as Merion, your game has to be in good shape. So that’s what I’ll take away from this year’s U.S. Open. My game is now right where it needs to be in order to win tournaments.
Like a lot of players, I loved the idea of the U.S. Open coming to Merion, such a wonderful and historic venue. Even though we had a lot of rain at the start of the week, it was always going to be a tough test in a U.S. Open style set-up. The fact that no one finished under par for the week pretty much says everything.
I got off to a decent start, but we’d had a delayed finish and when I came back the next morning it was really blowing out there, probably a two-club wind. It was also raining. At that moment it felt more like the Open Championship! You throw in deep rough and the length of some of those holes on the back nine…it was tough. To come in with a 71 was a decent result and a 72 in round two was okay, too. By then it was obvious no one was going to run away with this thing.
The weekend was a real battle for everyone. The rough was as penal as any of us has probably ever seen in the U.S. Open, so if you missed a fairway or a green you were penalized in a big way, and the greens were tricky. And this is the U.S. Open – that’s going to get the nerves going. We checked last night and there were only a dozen scores in the 60s out of 146 rounds of golf.
One of them was the 69 that I shot in the final round on Sunday, which got me in the clubhouse at 5-over par. To be honest, that always looked like it might be two or three shots too many. When you get that close you can’t help but maybe look at a few moments, the odd shot here or there, where it could have been better. But reflecting now on the week as a whole, I have to be satisfied with my game. It was close to being a very special week, but as it is it’s just a good, solid week and another major top-10 to add to the career tally.
Justin did a great job, though, and was very solid down that tough closing stretch. He’s a good guy and he deserves this win. I’m pleased for him.
We flew out of Philadelphia on Sunday night, arrived in London on Monday, and then fly to Munich on Tuesday for this week’s BMW International Open. This is the 25-year anniversary of this event – I’ve played it a handful of times, with a couple of top-10s – and they have assembled a strong field for the occasion. I send my congratulations to everyone involved.
BMW has been a great supporter of the game of golf and they always run a great tournament. I’ve played in more BMW events than I can remember (and owned plenty of its cars!) and I have many happy memories, not only in Germany but also in BMW tournaments all around the world.
Actually, we have BMW to thank for the biggest winning margin of my career – 13 shots – in the BMW Asian Open in Shanghai in 2005. It would be nice to repeat that again some time, but I’ll be satisfied if I can follow-on from last week’s U.S. Open and play some good golf. It’s not always easy straight after the physical and mental exertions of a major championship, especially on such a demanding golf course like Merion, but I’ll be giving it my best shot.
That’s it for now. Don’t forget you can now follow me on Twitter @thebig_easy