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South African is one of 11 World Golf Hall of Fame members in the field
KA’UPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii – After celebrating his 50th birthday in October of 2019, World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els will make his PGA TOUR Champions debut at this week’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. First-round play in the Tour’s season-opening event begins on Thursday.
“It is great to be here at Hualalai at the start of the year. I am with friends of mine that have left the regular Tour and are playing on PGA TOUR Champions, and seeing them resurfaces memories instantly,” said Els. “We’ve played against each other for such a long time and now that I’m 50 I know that I will be seeing them more often and that is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Els is part of a 2020 rookie class that also includes 17-time PGA TOUR winner Jim Furyk, 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, World Golf Hall of Fame member Phil Mickelson, and 2011 PLAYERS Champion K.J. Choi.
“When it comes to the Champions Tour, guys don’t have to tell me much about it because I can see in the scoring what you have to do,” said Els. “They are scoring unbelievably well out here, their games are sharp and they’re ready to go.”
Els, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011, has captured 19 wins throughout his PGA TOUR career, highlighted by two U.S. Open titles (1994, 1997) and two Open Championships (2002, 2012). Els is entering his 31st year as a professional golfer in 2020, and is one month removed from serving as the International Team Captain at the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Australia. He was an eight-time International Team member in Presidents Cup competition, compiling a 20-18-2 all-time record.
“As PGA TOUR Champions continues to grow, much of our success can be attributed to the involvement from the rookies who make their debuts each year,” said PGA TOUR Champions President Miller Brady. “Ernie’s outstanding career is one we have all been following for decades and it is with great excitement that we welcome him to our Tour at this week’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.”
While this will mark Els’ first time competing at Hualalai Golf Course, the South African has experienced great success in the state of Hawaii, winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions in 2003 and back-to-back Sony Opens in 2003-04. In total, he recorded 11 total top-10s between both events.
Els will be looking to become the 19th player in PGA TOUR Champions history to win in his debut, and the first to do so since Miguel Ángel Jiménez at the 2014 Mitsubishi Electric Classic near Atlanta.
In addition to Els, 10 other World Golf Hall of Fame members are set to compete this week, including: Fred Couples, Hale Irwin, Retief Goosen, Bernhard Langer, Davis Love III, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh and Tom Watson.
The 38th annual Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai includes tournament champions from the 2018 and 2019 seasons, winners of PGA TOUR Champions majors since 2015, eight additional invitees based on career PGA TOUR wins and major championship titles, and World Golf Hall of Fame members who played a minimum of eight PGA TOUR Champions events in 2019.
For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit pgatour.com/mec.
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