Ernie Els carded a final-round 74 to finish T26 at The Open Championship. (Lyons/Getty Images)
By Ernie Els, Special to PGATOUR.COM
It felt very special being back at Muirfield for a third time in an Open. It was an amazing week, but also a tough week, perhaps best summed up by the fact that I really didn’t get things going until I slam-dunked that pitch shot for eagle on the 17th hole on Sunday afternoon. Up until that point I’d been playing nicely, hitting it solidly, but just getting nothing out of my game.
This was Muirfield in its very purest form, though. It is probably the firmest, fastest running golf course that we’ve seen in a generation – only Hoylake in 2006 comes close – and I can hardly begin to describe how challenging it was. There was no let-up, there were no easy shots, no easy holes. It was fair, but it was relentless. It basically put pressure on every facet of your game and even half-a-mistake had the potential to land you in trouble.
After a pair of 74s, it was good to shoot a 1-under 70 on Saturday, but in all honesty it should have been better. I was trying to make a big move out there and get myself in the mix for Sunday’s final round, but I kept shooting myself in the foot with silly bogeys or slight misjudgements. It’s tough and it’s frustrating, but you have to keep grinding and know that every other player is going to be having their problems as well. You just can’t expect to play the perfect round of golf here.
Anyway, after what happened to me last year you have to go into the last round with some hope. You’re certainly not going to lie down until the final putt on the final green – that’s just the nature of me – but you need to make a very fast start to get that quick jump up the leaderboard. That didn’t happen. Still, the eagle on 17 was a nice little moment and that put a bit of an extra spring in my step for the walk down 18…the greatest walk in golf.
These really are the greatest fans in the world. Thank you all for the cheers and the encouragement you gave me, every step of the way. As I said, it was an amazing week and part of the reason for that was the support from the fans. Also, I send my congratulations to Phil on his first Open. We go way back, all the way to our junior days, and we’ve had some great battles. He’s one up on me now in the majors, but I like to think I’m not done yet!
OK, so moving on to this week’s RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey in Ontario. This is my third appearance in this event since signing with RBC as one of its golfing ambassadors and it’s the third different venue. This course is a new look for me, but I’m excited about the week. I hear good reports about this Jack Nicklaus golf course and we have a good lineup.
Also, the guys at RBC are so enthusiastic for golf. They've taken over this tournament and they've taken over at Hilton Head as well, so they're into golf on a big scale. They’re sponsoring quite a few top players around the world and it’s good to be a part of Team RBC. We’ve quickly developed a nice relationship and this is my chance to give something back and play some good golf.
I’ll write again soon. In the meantime, don’t forget you can now follow me on my new Twitter page @thebig_easy