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.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.