Els Reveals Son has Autism Seeks Research
His son was diagnosed with autism, which Els and his wife coped with privately until the Big Easy showed up on the PGA TOUR this week with an Autism Speaks logo on his golf bag and a message he wanted to get out.
I feel comfortable talking about it now, Els told The Associated Press after he missed the cut Friday in the PODS Championship. Ive got a bit of a profile where it will grab attention. Thats what this problem needs. And with that, hopefully, more people will get involved and we can start getting to what causes it and what can be done to help it.
His son turned 5 in October, the youngest of two children, a big boy with blond hair and blue eyes.
Ben is quite affected by it, Els said. But hes a lovely boy.
Els, who won the Honda Classic last week to end an 0-for-47 drought on the PGA Tour that spanned 3 1/2 years, said he and wife Leizl have known about it for quite a few years, and they have spoken to specialists around the world.
It was something they dealt with privately at home in London and in South Africa.
Samantha, 8, is their oldest child and she often accompanies her mother on the golf course for at least nine holes to watch Els play, sometimes bringing a sketch pad to draw the holes.
Its been a bit of a challenge, Els said. Its so new to everybody, that a lot of people have different ideas. After seeing just about everybody in the world, I decided on this path were going to go.
Like any family will tell you, its not easy. And its a change of life, a change of priorities. Youve got to be ready for it. And its happening more often. I never knew about it, never thought about it, until its in your lap.
He contacted Autism Speaks and is preparing to raise money and awareness for the disorder, which impairs a persons ability to communicate and relate to others.
Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks in New York, was thrilled to have the 38-year-old South African speak out.
No other golfer touches so many corners of the world than Els, whose schedule routinely takes him to just about every continent where golf is played. Among his three major championships, Els has 60 official victories in Asia, Europe, Africa and America.
Its very important having prominent people get out in front of this issue, Wright said. Its hard to get people to do that. Having Ernie, somebody who is prominent all over the world, to get out here is immensely helpful.
Several celebrities who do not have autism in the family still donate time to the organization, such as Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby and Jay Leno. NHL players Olaf Kolzig, Byron DaFoe and Scott Mellanby all have children with autism and founded Athletes Against Autism, which is part of Autism Speaks.
Wright said having Els involved would bring more people forward, something Els already has experienced. Cliff Kresge saw the Autism Speaks logo on the bag Friday and told him that his 8-year-old son, Mason, had autism.
I was surprised to hear about Ernie, Kresge said. In a way, though, we need someone of that stature to get some notice to this problem that we all have. Theres so many people like that out there, and so little is being done. If they can find cures for cancer, surely they can find a cure for autism.
Hopefully, with Ernies notoriety, we can get to the bottom of this.
Autism is now part of Els life.
Ben was born in October 2002, after a season in which Els captured his third major at the British Open and won the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, his primary residence.
When they discovered he was autistic, Els did not share this publicly through some of his toughest years in golf'having a chance to win all four majors in 2004 and coming away empty; a tubing accident that tore knee ligaments and ended his season in July; and losing more duels with Tiger Woods, most recently at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Weve been taking our time and trying to assess what we need to do, what we want to do, Els said. Were doing a lot for Ben. But there are a lot of kids like him out there, and worse than him. Were in a fortunate position where money is not a real problem for our family. We can get Ben the right help. Some people are not in the same position. Wed like to raise money for the poor.
And Id like to know why its happening, he said. Its gone crazy the last couple of years. Its an epidemic.
Els said he was stunned to learn from Autism Speaks that 1 in 150 children are diagnosed with autism, the rate even higher for boys. Wright said while not all countries are forthcoming with statistics, Britain has even higher rates.
Before speaking publicly, Els wanted to make sure his family was comfortable ' not only his wife, but his daughter, best known in the United States for her PGA TOUR commercial in which Els plays a math teacher adding the scores on a golf card, and Samantha (Sarah in the commercial) answers the question in her Afrikaans accent'3 under paw.
Samantha, shes been unbelievable with Ben, Els said. Shes like a mother figure, not a sister figure. I wanted her to feel comfortable, because obviously, this is going to get attention. We just feel more ready to deal with it now.
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.