“There’s no perfect formula in preparing for Majors; you can either play the tournament before or you can take the week off. It all depends how you feel at the time. I’ve had some success both ways.
“Being able to spend last week at home allowed me to work hard on my game and get properly rested and ready for the challenge of competing in the final Major of 2015. This is always a mentally and physically gruelling week, so it’s nice to come in to this Championship feeling fresh,” he said.
The Big Easy has fond 2004 memories of Whistling Straits, where he tied for fourth place, one shot behind a three-way playoff between Chris DiMarco, Justin Leonard, and Vijay Singh.
“It feels good to return to Whistling Straits for our third PGA Championship in a 12-year span,” Els said. “They’re bringing the Ryder Cup here in 2020 as well, which further hints at the high regard people have for this golf course. We arrived on Sunday and it’s been fun getting out on the golf course again and seeing what’s in store for us this week; trust me, this place is a little bit special.
“When we first came here in 2004 the course was quite benign the first couple of days and the scoring reflected that. Then over the weekend the wind got up, the course played firmer and faster, and Whistling Straits really showed its teeth; in fact, it was a seriously tough test of golf that weekend, especially on the Sunday. I remember playing some nice golf that week, highlighted by a first round 66, and ended up finishing just one shot out of the playoff.”
When ‘glory’s last shot’ returned to the bunker-iffic lakeside course in 2010 Els was able to secure a share of 18th after carding an opening round of 68.
The two-time Open Champion has always favoured tricky courses and the track clearly suits him. After a week of practice it’s time for the Big Easy to try for major number five.
“Whistling Straits certainly has the multi-faceted challenge that is typical of a links. There are quite a few blind shots and you have to figure out your own way of getting around here and you have to use your imagination and play some shots. At over 7,500 yards it’s a proper test and, as I said before, when the wind starts to blow hard off the lake as it did in the final round in both 2004 and on a couple of days in 2010, it can be brutal. Let’s see how we go this time around,” he said.