Editor's note: Ernie Els is writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM this year, and this is his most recent installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visiit www.ernieels.com.
Coming into this year’s Presidents Cup, on the back of four straight defeats in this thing, everyone on the International team was obviously really up for it. Monday was actually the first time we’d all got together in one room, but the team spirit was amazing right from the start.
We knew it was always going to be tough – with a very strong American team, a home course and home crowd advantage – but we put our heart and souls into it. We had a lot of fight in us the whole week and it was a pleasure and a privilege for me to be on the team with these guys.
Obviously this year there was an extra little bit of pride for me personally in having on our team a couple of former members of the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation – Louis, Branden and also Charl who often used to travel with our Foundation golf team. I remember them very well as kids, then as good amateurs and now here we were as professionals playing together on The Presidents Cup. It was quite wonderful, really.
Anyway, all the guys were pretty loose in the practice days and everyone was enjoying it. I suppose guys like myself, Scotty, Angel and also Jason being a member here, all of us having played this course so many times we were like the tour guides. We gave our input, where to hit it and how to play some of the par-3s and so forth. But the guys had their own game plans – they’re all fine players in their own right and at the end of day they were going to have to hit the shots.
There’s no need for me to go into the ins and outs of every day, nor the ups and downs of all the matches. However, summing up I will say that in all my eight appearances in this competition, the level of play this year and the number of birdies made on both teams was outstanding, probably the best we’ve seen.
For me, playing with Brendon was great. Obviously Nick was in a difficult situation with his Captain’s Picks, because someone is going to be disappointed. I supported Brendon because of his play and the way he hits the golf ball; he hits a power-cut so he’s got the perfect game for Muirfield Village. That was my theory. We also played together in the FedExCup and we thought we could be good together. We both hit the ball well all week and actually Brendon was awesome out there. He played beautifully and we had a lot of fun.
Coming into the singles matches, we knew that winning would be a very tall order, but we all made a huge effort and we gave it our best shot. We needed a miracle really, but the deficit was just too great. The final score was 18½ - 15½. Mine was a fun match against Steve Stricker – as it happened, more fun for me than it was for Steve – but it was a great game nonetheless.
Reflecting on the four days’ play there were a couple instances where, maybe through a lack of experience, we just let some matches get away from us. But we weren’t far away and these young guys know what it's all about now. They showed some class, some great golf and plenty of fight.
I guess from an International perspective there are some changes that we’d like to see for the future of this competition. Our team doesn’t have the depth that the American team has, so perhaps something more like the Ryder Cup where we play less matches on the first couple of days would be an option, but this is not the time for those discussions. All credit to the Americans, they played exceptionally well. Their level of play was really up there from the get-go and they made a lot of birdies. It seemed like they were able to seize the momentum in most of the sessions and we were always trying to fight ourselves back into it.
Okay, that’s it for now. This is a week off for me now and it’ll be good to relax, because The Presidents Cup is a tough week mentally and physically, especially with the kind of weather we had last week.
Then next weekend we’ll head over to Vegas for the Grand Finale of this year’s Els for Autism Golf Challenge. That’s always a great couple of days.