Every South African that has been previewed for this year’s Open Championship has been affected by Ernie Els somewhere in their career. Such is the greatness of Els, who inspires both fans and players through the example he sets.
The nickname ‘Big Easy’ originated from his stature and graceful swing, but the personality of Els mirrors his playing style. Players like Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace both came through the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, but the inspiration he provides goes way beyond funding…it reaches the golf course.
He's a World Golf Hall of Famer who has won two Open Championships, first in 2002 at Muirfield and then again in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St Annes. The four-time major champion reached a scratch handicap at the age of 14 and decided to focus on golf, eventually turning professional in 1989. In 1993 he became the first player ever to shoot four sub-70 rounds in an Open Championship.
Els is an honorary life member of both the Sunshine and European Tours, but his juices really get flowing when he competes at The Open.
“The whole package of strategic challenges that links golf presents, hopefully with a bit of a breeze thrown into the mix, to me is totally intoxicating. It’s a lot of fun using your imagination and playing the variety of different shots that are necessary in order to score well. Then there’s the sights, the sounds, the smell of the sea air, the support from the galleries, all together they represent everything I love about the game of golf. There is nothing else like it,” he said.