Greens are key for Ernie at Farmers

Ernie Els ranked seventh for greens in regulation (GIR) on the 2011 PGA Tour – a skill that will prove crucial when he makes his third appearance at the Farmers Insurance Classic, starting Thursday.

The reason GIR is so important around Torrey Pines South: the top 13 places at the 2011 event contained eight of the top 10 for GIR, a telling statistic around the longest course on the PGA Tour.

A week ago Els lost to Branden Grace in a playoff at the Volvo Golf Champions tournament. Tied second was, however, a solid return to form for Els. It included a final-round 67. “I did play well. Very encouraging week, all four rounds under par, and as I say, really could have been something special. I’m working on some good stuff and (it’s a) good start to the year,” he said.

The Big Easy tied fifth at the Farmers Insurance Classic in 2010. Consistency proved to be his success at the tournament – he carded 70 on the first day and went on to card three consecutive 69s to close the tournament at 11-under-par.

Comparison can be drawn between that 2010 performance and his share of second a week ago – firstly, he shot three consecutive 71s at The Links, Fancourt. Secondly, he currently has a stroke average of 70 on the 2012 European Tour, which is promising as he heads for the consistency-friendly Torrey Pines course. Thirdly, Els rested prior to Volvo Golf Champions and has come back fighting.

While only time allows for a full comeback, The Big Easy’s patience and consistency are valuable tools at a course which has not seen a rookie win since Arnold Palmer in 1957. Torrey Pines, at 7039 metres, favours patient, accurate and consistent play. Els has the temperament and form to play to the type of golf that has succeeded in the past around the coastal course.

While a full return to his former dominance will take time, Els will surely look to this week’s Farmers Insurance Classic for a headstart into the 2012 PGA Tour.

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