Ernie Els is over his injury and feeling in a good frame of mind ahead of the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational beginning today at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida.
“Having suffered from some pain and spasms in my right hip during the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral a fortnight ago, it was a case of just taking it easy last week and getting some treatment to sort it out. The good news is it feels a bit better and that means I can tee it up this week at Bay Hill,” Els, last year’s British Open champion, wrote on his website ernieels.com this week.
“It’s always great to play in Arnold’s tournament and to win it is obviously very special. The guy is such a legend and has done so much for the game of golf. He really helped me a bit at the start of my career as well, inviting me here for the first time way back in 1993, when I actually played with him the first couple of rounds. Arnold made the cut that year and I didn’t!
“Anyway, I’ve won here since then – in 1998 and 2010 – so there are enough good vibes in the memory bank that I always come in to this tournament with a lot of optimism.
“This is a tough golf course, though. It’s a long track, so you’re often hitting a lot of club into very firm greens and with plenty of water about. Every year you see that scoring is tough, even from the guys at the top of the leaderboard, and small mistakes can cost you shots. I’m looking forward to it, though, especially after last year when it was all a bit strange with me trying to secure a last-minute place in the Masters which didn’t happen. None of that stuff to worry about this year, I’m relieved to say.”
Els, 43, still dreams of a career Grand Slam – winning each of the four Majors at least once – and victory in the Masters would mean he would be three-quarters of the way there. He’s won both The Open and the US Open twice.
Retief Goosen, Branden Grace, Tim Clark, George Coetzee and Trevor Immelman are the other SA golfers in this week’s line-up.
Meanwhile, this year’s Els for Autism Chalenge has been launched with the help of Donald Trump. “We owe considerable thanks to Mr Trump. Six of our 22 regional qualifiers are being hosted at Trump courses, which is a huge boost to our fundraising campaign. They are fine golf courses and Mr Trump is generously giving us a break on the rent, which saves us a lot of money in fees that we would otherwise have had to pay to other golf clubs,” said Els, who’s son Ben is autistic. - The Star