Baird and Els are opposites, but will feel same pressure

October 08, 2011
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer

SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- If opposites attract, you couldn't ask for two players more opposite than Briny Baird and Ernie Els.


The last time Ernie Els won a tournament on the PGA TOUR was last year -- he actually won two of them. The last time Briny Baird won one was, well, never.

Not that Baird hasn't had his chances -- 347 of them to be exact.

Maybe he can learn something from Kevin Na, who went 210 starts without a victory before finally cashing in last week in Las Vegas.

"I don't look at it like if he can do it, I can do it," Baird said.

OK, maybe not.

"I don't know what they are thinking and what's going on with them," Baird continued. "There's been guys that have played out here for a while that suddenly win a golf tournament. It's going to be -- my world is not going to come to an end if I play well tomorrow and win the golf tournament. I think it's more of a bucket list type thing."

Don't let Baird fool you, though. A long-awaited win -- Baird has won more money than any other player without a victory and only one other active player has more starts without one -- would certainly mean a lot to Baird, who has more than $11.9 million in earnings but zero trophies.

"I used to say whatever it's not going to bother me," Baird said. "But I think looking back on it, I think it probably would about that much would bother me if I never did win on the PGA TOUR. Feeling like you can win on the PGA TOUR and winning on the PGA TOUR are as different as black-and-white."

Els does know winning. He's done it 18 times on the TOUR alone and 46 more times around the world.

"I don't think your memory disappears after 20 years of being out here," Els said. "This is what I've been working toward, especially after the PGA.

Els interview after Rd. 3

Following his third-round 67, Ernie Els talks to the media.

"I changed a lot of things and I feel that the work I've put in is starting to come through."

Some of those changes included bringing back his longtime caddie Ricci Roberts and switching to a belly putter earlier this year.

"You've got to do what you've got to do to get the golf ball in the hole," said Paul Casey, who like Els is also 11 under and is trying to end his own sort of drought.

Casey has just one career win on the TOUR, in 2009, though he has won twice elsewhere in the world this season, most recently in South Korea last week.

"I take a lot of confidence out of last week," said Casey, who has been plagued by a foot injury all year. "Not just the win but I felt that the game is coming back to where I want it to be.

"I know it was, you know, the Korean Golf Tour, it wasn't the PGA TOUR, but a win is a win."

And in the end that's all that matters to Baird, Els and Casey.

They've all had very different careers yet all are in similar positions. Winning's winning, whether you're trying for your first or for another one, they'll all feel the same pressure come Sunday.