Ernie’s ankle won’t stop his WGC campaign

Ernie Els is trying to shake off an ankle injury and play the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament this week. It’s a tough layout on the ankles, but the Big Easy is optimistic.

“My ankle’s a little bit sore, but when tomorrow comes around I’ll get on with it,” he said. “It happened two weeks ago, and it’s still in the recovery stage, but I really wanted to be here. This is such a great event. I played nine holes yesterday and it was really painful. It’s crazy how things work – you hurt your ankle, and then you come to most hilly golf course in the world!”

The injury came from a slip on the tennis court a fortnight ago, but the Open Champion has dealt with worse over his extensive career.

“I didn’t see a ball on the court, and I went down pretty hard. When you play the game for so long you get used to injuries. I’ve had many weeks with injury, so it’s nothing really new. It’s in a new spot – I don’t think I’ve played with a bum ankle before, but you just go through the notebook and carry on,” he said.

Els finished tied-33rd at Mission Hill Golf Club last year. He overcame a first-round 75 and finished the tournament at four-under-par. He highlighted the spectacle of playing at such an impressive golf development.

“I know how much work goes into designing courses. It’s basically on the mountain-side and the work they’ve done in shaping some of these holes is incredible. This whole Mission Hills development is something out of this world – they’ve done one really great job here,” he said.

China has notorious weather, and rain has softened the course this week. Els has analyzed the conditions, and provided he can handle his ankle, likes his chances.

“The course is in great shape. The fairways are wonderful, and with the weather we’ve had you can keep the ball in the fairway. With soft greens you can go at some of the holes. I’m not saying it’ll be 30-under-par, but I think you can expect some really good scoring this week. I’m quietly optimistic, but first I’d like to make 18 holes,” he said.

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