Ernie Els can do a little nose-rubbing this week as he tees off in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, South Carolina Â if he wins, he will become the first PGA Tour victor to assure himself of a spot in the 2013 Masters.
The Big Easy missed his first Masters since 1994, but he swings straight back into action after a week of television viewing on the Harbour Town Golf Link, a course he has done well on and which he likes.
Writing in his weekly blog, Els said, ÂYou need to work your golf ball to score well and, when you miss one of those small greens, you need a deft touch to give yourself a chance of getting up and down. ThatÂs always been a strong part of my game, which I guess is one of the reasons IÂve had so many top-10 finishes in this tournament.Â
He has chalked up seven top-10s in the 12 times he has played the event, but none of those have come since he was runner-up in 2007 to Boo Weekly.
However, despite his frustrating miss for the Masters, Els has been playing well this season with two top-fives and a share of 12th in his last three starts.
And a return to some sort of putting form is what he needs to deal with a field that includes world number one Luke Donald, who will be smarting at a poor Masters last week.
There are also fellow South Africans Trevor Immelman, Rory Sabbatini and Tim Clark in the field.