Ernie Els has been through it all in his 19 trips to Augusta National, all except donning the Green Jacket. This year’s Masters, now devoid of Tiger Woods, is the time and place for the Big Easy to increase his wardrobe.
“I’m excited about this five-week stretch of tournaments coming up, with the Masters sandwiched right in the middle. Hopefully I can generate some momentum in my game and give myself that little bit of confidence and sharpness that you need in order to post some consistent numbers,” he said.
The 44-year-old legend has finished runner-up twice at the Masters, first in 2000 and again in 2004, and has a total of 11 top-20s. The veterans always pull through at Augusta, and Els’ knowledge of the course and experience under pressure are key elements of his campaign for glory.
The Johannesburger claimed his fourth major title at The Open Championship in 2012, where he outlasted the faltering Adam Scott at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s. Two years down the line and the consistency of Els’ game is a telling sign that can contend this year. He is the top-earning South African on the 2014 PGA Tour and ranks 33rd in the world.
The smooth swing and cool demeanour of Theodore Ernest Els have earned him a legacy in golf, but time is running out and this year could be the last chance for him to take a real crack at the Masters.
In 2004 Els lost out to long-time rival Phil Mickelson, who birdied the 18th to win by one stroke. In previous trips to Augusta he’s experienced similar disappointment, but last year he rallied with a Sunday 69 and finished tied 13th.
That’s not the sum total of Els, however, who has 77 career victories and a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame. His 2012 Open Championship win was unexpected, but it proved that the veterans should never be counted out. Prior to the week at Royal Lytham he was given 60 to one odds by the bookkeepers.
Next week at Augusta he could expand the Big Easy legacy by one green jacket, but it should not be counted as a surprise if he succeeds.