Think You Need a Break Try Els Schedule

By George WhiteMay 20, 2004, 4:00 pm
Ernie Els is golfs version of the harried housewife. Lets see, she awakened at 5:30, made breakfast, got the husband off to work and the kids to school, dusted and vacuumed, washed clothes, made dinner, broke up a fight between the children, sewed a button on hubbys shirt, then finally sunk, exhausted, into bed at 11.
Ernie is just like that sweetheart that goes around and around in circles every day. If youve got a golf tournament and youve got a million bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you call Ernie. I dont care where it is on this planet, he will have his clubs and plane on the ready.
This week, for instance, he is about to play the second in a string of six consecutive weeks. Lets see, last week he was in Texas to play the EDS Byron Nelson. This week its Germany for the Deutsche Bank ' SAP Open (TGC, Beginning Thurs at 8:00 a.m. ET). Next week its off to England for the Volvo PGA Championship. Then he crosses the Atlantic again to Ohio for the Memorial.
Breathless yet? OK ' four weeks and counting. The fifth week is just a local stop ' 1,000 miles or so for the Buick Classic in New York And if he isnt dead by then, the sixth and final week is something called the U.S. Open.
This isnt such a bad leg, though. Theres no Australia thrown in there, no Thailand. Theres no long hauls to his native South Africa. Theres just a tournament every week for six weeks, with two ocean crossings. He does that as easily as you cross the street to get a quart of milk.
Of course, the obvious question is: werent you a little concerned about the run-up to a major tournament ' the Open, which incidentally he has already won twice. Arent you just a wee bit concerned that by then there wont be any gas left in the tank?
Yeah, absolutely, Ernie said. But when you play both tours, you know, it's kind of difficult sometimes because I won the Order of Merit (money title) last year in Europe, and Ken Schofield (commissioner of the European Tour) really wanted me to play at the PGA at Wentworth.
That's their flagship event, and they were having their big awards dinner and everything that week. I think it would have been awkward if I wasn't there, and the fact that I've got a house there (at Wentworth near London) also helps.
SAP, Deutsche Bank - SAP is my main sponsor so I've kind of got to go there.
They're actually playing a nice course this year, it's further south, so we should have good weather.
Of course, he wouldnt think of upsetting Jack Nicklaus, so he pencils in Jacks Memorial Tournament. Then the Buick Classic is my favorite event, also, so it's difficult to leave some events out, said Els. And then theres the national championship.
Actually, Ernie had a whole three weeks off before the Nelson. Tsk-tsk ' arent we lazy, now! Of course, even when hes off work, hes still traveling. There was a five-day jaunt from London to his South African home thrown in there. But that was nothing ' just a milk run across the street, in your parlance.
I just felt after a three-week break, I've just got to get back to work and do what I do best - and that's play golf, he said half-apologizing for his laziness.
Who knows what Els could do if he concentrated on just playing one tour? He might win 10 times and average 65 ' or he might fare worse than he does now. This go-go-go thing might be just what the physio ordered.
I've been doing it my whole career now, and it's a little easier the way we travel nowadays, so I can sleep a little better, he said.
Yeah, jetlag still gets you. Coming this way is no problem. Going back to Europe from here tends to get me a little bit more. I'm a fit young man and I've been doing it my whole life. It's not such a big deal.
When you go through serious time change, if you go to the Far East, that's a totally different story, but a nine-hour flight, I get on the plane, I have my dinner, sleep, wake up on the other side, and there you are. It's just an overnight flight. It's not a big deal. As I say, I come from South Africa and I've been doing it since 1984, so it's been 20 years.
So he will go on with his life, grabbing sleep where he can, not really belonging to any country, but then again, belonging to golf around the world. Hes a citizen of the planet.
I've said to you guys so many times through the years that next year I'll play more, next year I'll play more (in the U.S.), but I guess I'm comfortable with it. I can't really see myself playing just one tour at the moment, especially with where my family is now (London). It would be difficult for me to do that.
I'm doing OK, you know, I feel when I play over here three weeks that I can take a break. I can go somewhere else. I play over there a couple of weeks, I can get out of there.
The bottom line is, dont feel sorry for Ernie. Ernie certainly doesnt.
I'd like to believe that I've got the best of both worlds, he says, that I can get out when I want to, and I feel comfortable with that and I'm fine with that.
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, part of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward the back-right hole location, about 25 feet away, closer than both Fleetwood and Johnson.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back after the opening round. He tied for second here a year ago.

Johnson is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

Getty Images

McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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."