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August 19 2013

12:20 PM

Els blog: Primed for the Playoffs

2013 Getty Images
Ernie Els is a four-time major champion.

Editor's note: Ernie Els has been 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.

I feel like I’ve been fighting a few things in my golf swing just recently, but a final round 65 at the Wyndham Championship – my lowest score in a couple of months – is hopefully going to help me get my head around those issues. Tied-20th wasn’t quite the result we were looking for (it elevates me only a couple of spots up to 82nd in the FedExCup rankings) but that final round at least gives me something positive to take into this week’s Barclays.

Up until that final round, it was tough going, although my second round was livened-up by one of the strangest pars of my career. I’d just missed the 10th green and had to hit my first putt at almost a 90-degree angle to the hole, but I misjudged it by a fraction and left the ball in the fringe – the first time I’ve hit a putt that didn’t actually touch the putting surface! Then I holed the next putt down the slope from about 20 feet to save par. So that was a no-putt green, even though I hit two putts. Maybe take a look at the video. It’s a bit of a one-off.

Seriously, though, I was grinding hard all day and then made a crucial putt on the 18th green, holing-out from 5 feet for a closing birdie to shoot 68 and make the cut right on the mark. We knew the situation at that time, so it was a nice little battle to win. You’re at the wrong end of the leaderboard, but holing those putts under pressure still makes you feel good.

Then after a level par third round we finished the week nicely with a 65 on Sunday. When you’ve had a couple of bad weeks, and to be honest not a great couple of months, it’s all about taking small steps in the right direction. The name of the game now is take that 65 and build on it in the coming weeks.

Okay, so it’s FedExCup Playoffs time now. For the first installment we’re at Liberty National this week for The Barclays. On our last visit here four years ago I closed with a final round 66 to finish tied-second. That week Liberty National was a new look for all of us and it’s fair to say it was challenging in a way that was very different to the type of layouts we play most weeks.

They’ve made significant changes to the course since then, though. A total of 15 of the 18 holes have undergone major alterations and 12 greens have been either completely rebuilt or reshaped. The receptiveness of the course has also been improved, in particular softening the contours of the greens and some of the landing areas in the fairways, so the set-up and overall playability of the golf course will be markedly different to last time. They’ve obviously worked extremely hard to make this a fairer test of golf and you have to respect them for that. I certainly look forward to teeing it up there again.

It would obviously be great to go one better than last time here, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. My focus is on making a good, solid start, then let’s see if we can get into a strong position through the weekend.

Follow me on Twitter @thebig_easy

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