Ernie Els (pictured) won the British Open Championship at Lytham in July, which means he now has four major championships to his name. His form dipped somewhat after that great week but he was solid during the FedEx Cup play-offs.
Adam Scott bogeyed the last four holes at the Open, which meant that the 20 foot putt that Els drained on his last hole clinched the championship. He has now won both the British and US Opens on two occasions.
The South African’s major championship wins span 18 years, which a testimony to his consistency over a sustained period of time. Tiger Woods’ 14 majors to date were won over 11 years and he is unlikely to be winning majors in seven years time.
The Big Easy also contended at the US Open this year. He had an opportunity over the back nine on Sunday but faltered somewhat and came up just short. However, he took the confidence gained that week to Lytham and duly obliged on the west coast of Lancashire.
This week’s Player in Focus qualified for the Tour Championship by finishing inside the top 30 in the standings. He didn’t contend that week but it was a fine achievement to make the season finale. It was a fitting ending to the regular season which saw him move to 22 in the world rankings.
Els has absolutely no worries about retaining his card. His Open win gives him a five year exemption so he can be relaxed and focused over the next phase of his career. After that five year spell he will be approaching the age of 50 and may then consider playing on the Seniors Tour.
In the context of this week’s tournament, Ernie has an obvious chance against a field that is below average in quality. Twelve months ago he finished just three shots behind tournament winner Bryce Molder so has positive mental associations with the venue.
Els’ skills profile would not make him an obvious pick. It’s also worth noting that since the British Open he has gone seven starts without a top 25, but he’s the only golfer in the field who contested the Tour Championship. However, motivation could be the key this week but several factors point to a good event for Els.