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The Tour Report
  • Els blog: 'Rattled' at start of The Open Championship

  • Ernie Els opened with a 79 after his tee shot struck a fan on the first hole at Royal Liverpool. (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images) Ernie Els opened with a 79 after his tee shot struck a fan on the first hole at Royal Liverpool. (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

It felt nice to be back at Hoylake; the course was in incredible shape and I’ve played well there before. I was genuinely excited about my chances, especially on the back of a final-round 66 at Royal Aberdeen.

Obviously it all went wrong on my very first hole. I hit my tee shot left into the crowd and although we shouted "fore" my golf ball struck a gentleman in the face. By the time we got there he didn’t look good at all and there was blood everywhere. It must have been like a bullet coming at him and he was in shock. I was too, to be honest. I was pretty rattled and was still thinking about him when I got to the green. Then I started missing short putts. It was just a nightmare day all round, a total nightmare.

I did speak to the gentleman later and happily he was fine and recovering well. We got him some more tickets for the weekend of the Championship, so I hope he enjoyed the golf.

Me, well clearly I had a lot to do in order to recover from that opening 79 and make it to the weekend. Off the tee and into the greens my game was much better on Friday. My numbers were pretty good in both departments and I hit a lot of sweet putts, but just had one of those days where I was burning the edges. It could have been much better than 73, but the damage was done on Thursday. It’s extremely disappointing because this is my favourite tournament of the year and I can usually rely on The Open to bring out the best in my game. Just didn’t quite happen this time.

Next up is the RBC Canadian Open at Royal Montreal in Quebec, a lovely golf course where we played the Presidents Cup back in 2007. My standout memory that year was teaming up with Mike Weir and the pair of us shooting the lights out to win a couple of great fourball matches; that was a lot of fun!

The RBC Canadian Open is one of the oldest national opens in the world and has a great history going back almost a century. I remember watching it on TV in the 1970s and 80s and following guys like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and my childhood hero Gary Player. RBC is very enthusiastic for golf, having taken over this tournament and the tournament over at Hilton Head, so they’re really into golf on a big scale and also sponsoring quite a few top players around the world. They’re doing a great job with the Canadian Open and I really like the way they are moving it around the country – this is the fourth different venue in four years. I think that’s a wonderful idea.

For me, it’s been nice to be a part of Team RBC and as anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, since April all of the company’s golfing ambassadors have been engaged in a fun social media campaign called RBCGolf4Kids. The whole concept is based on generating as many retweets as possible – the more you get, the higher up the leaderboard you go and the more charity dollars RBC will donate to the players’ charities, in my case Els For Autism.

We’re now into the final week, the final sprint to the finish line. My team has been working hard behind the scenes to offer some good giveaways over the past few months and I want to personally thank everyone out there who has taken the trouble to support me and retweet #RBCELS. This week we’re really pushing the boat out and giving away an amazing package of great golf gear, kindly supplied by my sponsors.

To give yourself a chance to claim this prize, all you have to do is follow me on Twitter @TheBig_Easy and retweet #RBCELS as often as you like. In fact, the more often the better.