Els Quietly Becomes The Family Man

By George WhiteOctober 2, 2003, 4:00 pm
As he strolled the three golf courses that make up the dunhill links championship in St. Andrews last week, Ernie Els was overcome with emotion. He thought of other times, other places about 20 years ago, at a little course where he grew up in South Africa.
There was his father, Neels. And his older brother, Dirk. And there was the tournament and the three golf courses. For awhile, Els forgot all about the dunhill links and just thought about his family.
Yes, it was good, he agreed. I had a good week.
I enjoy links golf, especially with my dad. My brother was also there last week, and we played some practice rounds together. It reminded me how we grew up, playing with my brother and dad over weekends. It was something I will always remember. It was nice doing that last week, especially Tuesday and Wednesday. Then obviously on Thursday, I played with my dad.
Els was in Atlanta, speaking with the media before teeing off again, this time in the WGC ' American Express Championship. Scotland one week, Georgia the next. This seemed like a pushover, however. Els is one of the most-traveled golfers in history. He has four homes ' in Orlando, outside London, in the Bahamas and in South Africa ' and its no coincidence that each is in a different area of the world. Els is comfortable in just about every spot on earth.
Ive been doing it (traveling) for eight years now, he said, admonishing writers for making an issue out of the constant travels.
Sure, I think there was one trip that got a little bit out of hand, when I went to Singapore from Hawaii and then back to Australia. That was tough.
It was a major concession, hearing Els admit it. He traveled the equivalent of almost all the way around the world in just three weeks, and it was a bit much, thank you.
He has a wife and two kids, you know. And it gets more and more difficult tearing himself away from them.
It really was hard leaving London yesterday, saying goodbye to the family and leaving, Ernie said. My little girl is at an age where shes really great. My boy is almost 1 year old. Were really set where we are right now, and its really getting more difficult leaving.
My schedule will probably start changing quite dramatically next year. I still think Im going to play Hawaii those first two events (Mercedes and Sony), and then Im still contracted to do the Heineken Classic and the Johnnie Walker (both in Australia.) Then Im going to try and play different events next year a little bit.
Im really trying to work my daughters schedule with mine and do it that way. I still would like to play more in America, and I think from next year onwards, it will probably start happening.
Els and his wife have gradually settled in the London suburb of Wentworth, spending more time there and less time in their Orlando home. London is closer to their birthplace of South Africa. The pull of home is still strong, says Els.
Sometimes unfortunately ' I wasnt born here (in the U.S.), he explained. If I were born here, I would stay here. My family (his mother and father) is not here, and its easier for me to travel from London down to South Africa than to come here.
I mean, the weather (stinks in London), believe me, ' laughter all around ' but theres a lot of stuff ' theres so much we have in common (living in London.) That way of life is more what Im used to. My wife is happy there (in London) and my kids are happy there.
It seems a little odd that Els says he is planning to play more in the U.S. while establishing his main residence in England. But that is the price one must pay to raise his family where he feels the most comfortable. The U.S., simply put, is just too far from South Africa.
We still have a house in Orlando, Ill keep the house in Orlando. Well still spend close to four months of the year here ' which is a lot. I love the way of life here. I like the people here.
I mean, its a great place to live, even raise your kids, but we just feel comfortable over there. Thats just the way it is.
Els the Most Eligible Bachelor has turned into Els the Confirmed Family Man. Its a major change, but then Els has changed just about everything in his life.
Everything, that is, except golf and family. Or, more properly, family and golf. Sounds like Els has truly gotten it right.
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

Getty Images

Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

Getty Images

DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

Getty Images

LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.