Ernie Els will measure his progress in PGA Tour events against Tiger Woods
Some of you know that I have predicted great things for Ernie Els this year. He continues to get healthier and so far, most facets of his golf game are looking good. He played well in a couple of season opening events in South Africa, limping around while winning once and finishing second to a birdie, birdie finish by Retief Goosen. Then it was a couple of weeks off before two European Tour events in the desert. The first was a so-so (for him) 13th place finish in Qatar. The following week in Dubai, Els bested a tremendous field – except for one Eldrick “Urkel” Woods, to whom he lost in the first hole of a playoff.
That brings us to Els’ first appearance on the PGA Tour in 2006 this week at Riviera in LA. Luckily for him, Woods is in the field again, as he will be next week in the WGC Match Play event at La Costa. While any one performance does not determine someone’s path for an entire year - especially in match play - having Tiger there 3 weeks in a row will help ascertain the current state of Els game. He reports his surgically repaired knee is around 75-80% healed and getting better by the week, which may or may not be true. But if it is, look out Augusta.
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I watched the Dubai tourney and that wasn't a fold. A bad tee shot, yes. On the dogleg par 5 playoff hole, they had to hit a long draw off the tee to keep it in the fairway. Els overcooked it left into a sandy area between the plam trees. (On the same hole in regulation play he hit a great tee shot and made a clutch birdie with an 8-footer). Tiger was able to put his tee ball in the center of the fairway, just 220 yards from the pin. Because of the situation, Els was forced to try an extremely difficult shot (230 yard hook off a marginal lie in the waste area) that wound up a couple of feet short of very good, but in the water. Game, set & match.
If Ernie's shot had gone a couple of feet longer, he would have been favourite for that hole and thus the tournament.
Golf tournaments are often won by such margins. That means very little for the rest of the season.
As I've stated many times, people make too much out of winning & how winning suddenly makes someone better. A few weeks ago, Monty won only because the man leading hit a double bogey on the last hole to hand Monty a one shot victory. Does this make Monty a great winner? Nope.
Winning often has a big element of luck and particularly often has luck on playoff holes.
Els has plenty of titles in him this season. I just hope at least one of them is in a major.
Padraig Harrington deserves a mention too. He has just had his traditional 10 week Christmas layoff, and is in Malaysia this weekend. Expect big things form him also, although maybe not just yet.
Els and Harrington for majors.
Oh, and if you don't mind me asking, Norman, what is your surname? I saw you mention in another post that you played on the European Tour for a while. (You don't have to answer my question if you don't want to, of course.
Monty is indeed a great winner. What I was saying is, that particular win did nothing to show this.
All he did was pick up the scraps.
Many wins are like this, and there is often a 2nd place with more personal achievement than Monty's mentioned win. For instance Ernie Els had the Masters taken off him by a great Phil Mickelson finish a couple of years ago. There was no shame for Ernie, just another player on a hot streak.
Of course, I'd take a scrappy win, handed to me by a faultering player, ahead of a gallant 2nd place finish.
I'm just saying that a 2nd place finish doesn't necessarily mean that a player folds.
In the case of Dubai, Els had to actually make a birdie in the first place in regulation play to get him a possible win.
As it turned out Tiger equalled his score. Suppose Tiger had parred the final hole in regulation. Would this have suddenly made Ernie Els a great winner. I don't think so.
Apart from Tiger, Ernie has been one of the very best pressure players in the last few years. One bogey doesn't change that.
Oh, and I'm not giving my surname because I'll be winning The Open (British Open) this year. Just a small tiny little matter of qualifying first.
Although I don't know Ernie Els on a personal level, I do know guys who do, and I've yet to hear anything bad said about him. There are very few golfers I could say that about.
What tour do you play on?"
Well his first name is, Greg right?
He also said he was nearly recovered from injury.
Maybe that's why he doesn't seem to have been blogging as much here in the last while.
Question for Norman: how many guys in the world top 20 have you met?
Of the top 20 list, I'd say 13, just glancing through it.
But if you mean met properly as in had a conversation with, it would be just some of the British & Irish guys really.
As regards the injury, you could make that a plural. But yes I'm pretty much physically better but not match fit yet. I am practicing hard though.
the european tour, but not with very good exempt status, so I play lower levels too. That could change this season though!
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