Ernie Els was at the Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ont., on Monday along with fellow Callaway staff player J.J. Henry to take part in the third annual Golf Town Invitational, with all proceeds going to the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine.
Els was fresh off his tie for second at The Barclays, the first tournament in the FedEx Cup playoffs which turned out to be Els’ best finish of the season, although he has had six top-10s so far in 2009.
It put him that much closer to his first win since the Honda Classic last March, a long wait for a guy once ranked No. 1 in the world, so Els was in fine form as talked about his game, the FedEx Cup and the way he deals with his son Ben’s autism.
Here are a few excerpts from his discussion yesterday with the media:
What his tie for second at The Barclays means:
“I’ve been playing okay for awhile, but at least the results are coming through a little better now. It’s still not a win, but getting closer. To me, it’s just getting into that situation a bit more often and then, making the putts when it really counts. I didn’t make a big putt (Sunday). That’s probably what cost me a little bit.
“I’d like to win a tournament, whether it’s in the FedEx or whatever. If I can get into that situation more often, I think a win will come. I like the course this week in Boston. I played pretty nicely last year.”
On players’ changing attitudes towards the controversial FedEx Cup:
“I think the change in the points system this year has made a bit of a difference. They’ve got Tiger to play all four. It seems like he’s going to play all four, which is a big deal.”
On the International Team’s chances at the upcoming Presidents Cup:
“Every year, we look pretty strong on paper. We need to get together and play as a team. We’ve only done it maybe twice.”
With you, Mike Weir and others having brand name wines, will that loosen up team meetings?
“We could have a major piss-up if everybody brings their wine and we could be there for awhile!”
Will fatigue set in at The Presidents Cup, with so many FedEx Cup events leading up to it?
“It’s a very busy time. We’re playing high level golf, almost major level golf, at the moment and then, to throw in a team event like that, it’s going to take it out of the players.”
Do you still feel the effects of knee surgery in 2005?
“I don’t know if you’re ever 100 per cent, but you adapt. My swing’s a little different. My move through the ball’s different than it was before the knee injury, but I’m not in pain. I think if you speak to Tiger, he’ll tell you exactly the same. It’s like in any sport, a quarterback or a guy playing hockey, you recover, but you’re ever quite the same.”
How did Butch Harmon help?
“When I started working with Butch, my swing was in disarray. I was all over the place and he helped me out a lot. He gave me a lot of drills to work on and, for over a year, I worked on the stuff and I felt I made the changes and started seeing the benefits of it.”
You’re a rugby fan and play golf all over the world. What do you think of rugby and golf being recommended for the Olympics?
“Is rugby in the Olympics? Sevens? That’s not rugby. It’s a good spectator sport and it’s good for the Olympics, but rugby – the real game – that would be something, too.
“I think golf coming in is fantastic. I think it’s good for the Olympics. They need a clean sport like golf. It’s a worldwide sport and it has a huge audience. It’s good for the Olympics and it’s great for our game because it’s going to be watched by everybody with a television set.”
How is your work with autism going and how is your family coping with Ben being affected?
“We’re trying to find out why it’s happening and why, so frequently, to boys? We’re thinking maybe it could be genetic. You come to terms with everything and it becomes a way of life. You adapt.”