While there’s nothing in writing yet, the mutual admiration going on between World Number One Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els at last week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open presented by the Rory Foundation left very little doubt that there would be a quid pro quo for the Big Easy’s presence at Royal County Down.
And, in an interview on the final day of the tournament, host McIlroy was asked how he would repay the likes of Elsand Rickie Fowler for playing in his national open, and he replied, “I’m definitely going down to South Africa one of the next couple of years to play in the SA Open with Ernie.”
With Els moving into the host slot in the South African Open Championship in January this year at Glendower Golf Club, the tournament experienced a revival of interest from fans. And Els said during the tournament in January that he would be prevailing upon friends of his to come and play in the world’s second-oldest open championship. Throughout the Irish Open, Els made pointed reference to the fact that he was in Ireland for the sake of his ‘good friend Rory McIlroy’.
Els also counts the likes of 2014 Masters winner Adam Scott amongst his friends, so, in addition to McIlroy, local fans may well be in for a treat as Els uses his influence to make the field of the SA Open worthy of its history.