Ernie Els sent a shock back to Canada from Royal Lytham and St. Annes on Sunday, where he had just won the British Open before saying he was going to “blow off” his Canadian commitment, a statement that was actually said in jest.
Els just meant he wanted to hang with friends and family, which he did on Monday, but he’s learned a lesson.
“I should choose my words a little more carefully next time,” admitted Els, who has RBC, the Open’s title sponsor, as a personal sponsor, as well.
“I think since RBC has taken over the sponsorship, they’ve started moving it around the country, which I think is a wonderful idea, but the date is always a problem,” he said.
“After a major, most of the guys want to maybe take a week off. I signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with RBC and obviously, that entitles me to play the Canadian Open, so it just so happened that I won the Open Championship,” he added.
“That made it difficult to get here on Monday,” said Els.
“This tournament goes back a long time and I’m familiar line with the Open Championship, or the history of the Canadian Open. I know it’s an old national open and it goes back many, many years,” he said.
“I remember in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the top guys in the world used to play the Canadian Open all the time — (Lee) Trevino, Tom Watson, Gary Player, those types of players, so hopefully in time, we’ll get this (date) thing kind of sealed,” said Els.
After winning a major, making a trans-Atlantic flight and doing a client outing, Els says he feels fresh going into the Open, but he admits he hasn’t seen as much of the golf course as he’d like.
However, he’s coming into the event after an event at which he watched Adam Scott bogey his last four holes to hand Els his fourth career major and second British Open title. It wasn’t that long ago that Els struggled as he stumbled down the stretch at a major.
However, that shaky finish at this year’s U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco almost served as an omen to Els, who had been struggling with his game for a few years.
“I felt more in control, more in control of my emotions and my game. I felt I could stand up to the pressure again and that’s all the work that we put in leading up to that point, so although I didn’t quite finish the way I wanted to, I still felt calm and that was good,” said Els.
As for the golf course, Els says he’ll figure it out.
“I don’t know if it’s such a big disadvantage because, a lot of times, you play a course, you don’t know where the trouble is, so maybe that’s a good thing. You get your yardage. You hit it to our spots and from there, you go to your next spots,” said Els.
“I did play a couple of holes (Tuesday). I played five holes, so you know I just want to be fresh mentally and physically, so I’ll be okay,” he said.