It doesn’t get much better for a golfer heading into a major championship than it does for Ernie Els as he gets ready for this year’s British Open. Els won this event the last time it was held at Muirfield, way back in 2002. He is also the defending champion, having won last year’s tournament at Royal Lytham. So, in essence, he is the defending course and tournament champion.
While he did emerge as the victor last year, I still contend that Adam Scott lost the tournament as much – if not moreso – as Els won. Scott gave back four shots over the final four holes to essentially hand the Claret Jug to Els. The South African will be looking to be just the third man to pick up two wins at Muirfield – the other two are Sir Nick Faldo (1987 & 1992) and James Braid (1901 & 1906).
It sounds strange to say that the defending British Open champion has been mired in relative anonymity for quite some time, but that is really the case with Els. This tournament was his only victory last year and he only has four top 25 finishes in 11 PGA Tour events this year. He does have one victory on the European Tour – the BMW International Open that was contested at the end of June. That success was likely wiped out when he missed the cut at last week’s Scottish Open, however.
Els has been a prominent name in the sport for quite some time but he really only shows up on occasion. The rest of the time he plods along in the middle of the pack. I anticipate him to make the cut this week but not to make too many waves. He won’t repeat as the British Open champion.