Ernie Els/getty images
Ernie Els is back at the Bridgestone Invitational a completely rejuvenated man after his win at The Open 2012. Ernie came from four shots adrift of the lead on the back nine at Royal Lytham & St Annes to beat Adam Scott and lift The Claret Jug. Strangely the week after his win, Ernie missed the cut in Canada and he is now keen to return to the high standards he set during his back nine 32 at The Open to clinch a fourth Major.
“The whole thing happened quite fast, I didn’t see what Scotty did obviously in live play. But I heard, and then I basically switched my telephone on and had friends reporting to me what was going on. I was obviously just praying to get in a play-off. The way it finished, I still feel for Scotty, but this one came my way for once. Stats are against you at our age. But I think the 40 somethings have really proven themselves through the years. You can go back to Mark O’Meara, you can even go further back to Ray Floyd, you can go back to Hale Irwin, you can go back to Ben Hogan.
Vijay Singh, myself, Darren Clarke, you’re talking about quite a few guys in their 40s who have won Majors. The game of golf is such that you get lucky every now and again, and I definitely got lucky the other day. I haven’t had a top ten or sniffed a top five here for many, many years, so I’d actually love to have a decent week here this week.”
Ernie had consulted psychologist Sherylle Calder and the gamble has definitely paid off for him. He also insists that he wants to return to the short putter at some point, I will try and contact Ernie and introduce him to our new putter. He said of Sherylle;
” I’ve known her over ten years, I’m a big rugby lover, and Sherylle, she’s worked in a lot of sports, but obviously worked with our Springbok rugby team. The Springboks come to Great Britain in November, and normally when we lived in England, I’d always be on the bandwagon there watching rugby and going around with the players.
I gave Sherylle and some of the staff a lift back to London on our plane, I think it was about in 2003 or something, and we did briefly talk about it. She really wanted to start working with me because she really felt she could help me, but back then I think I was Number Two or Three in the world and pretty bulletproof. I didn’t really think I needed anybody’s help.
It’s funny how times change. Ten years later, and Johann Rupert actually wanted me to start working with her again. I saw Sherylle in January in Fancourt, and I was pretty desperate on the greens and thought I’ll give it a go and see what it’s really all about, and we started working. I felt just things that she was doing , just little patch up stuff for that week was things that she took me right back into my heyday on the greens in the late ’90s, with exactly the things that I would do without even thinking about. It just shows you how far I went off the beaten track. She really brought me back, and then we started working on things that she’s really experienced at.”
Adam Scott is the defending champion here at Bridgestone this week, and everyone is wondering how well he will recover from the shock, horror show that gifted The Open title to Ernie;
“I really just felt a bit shocked and almost numb of feeling about it, I certainly didn’t beat myself up and have to curl up in a corner.
It just all happened so fast, even looking back on it, how quickly it can slip away. Without doing that much wrong, it was just compounding mistakes. I felt overall the whole week and the way I’ve looked at it is I played some amazing golf and did what I needed to do, and the things I’ve worked on are obviously working. There wasn’t that much healing for me. My game is in really great shape, and I just took a few days to rest up, then just thought about how great I played. I felt like it was my week, and I played like a champion, but I just played four poor holes at the end, and you can’t win and do that. It’s just motivation for me. I think I’m right on the right track, keep doing what I’m doing and I can get myself more chances like that.”