Far From Easy

By Rex HoggardJune 19, 2010, 3:41 am

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Before teeing off on Thursday for his opening round at the 110th U.S. Open, Ernie Els, the picture of serenity whose syrupy action is every bit as tranquil as the sway of Stillwater Cove, had a confession.

“I’m nervous,” he told his manager Chubby Chandler.

If the man with 18 PGA Tour titles, three majors and the most effortless swing known to man is death gripping 9-irons, what hope is there for the rest of us?

It is one of the game’s true ironies, like smiling dolphins in aquariums, the man whose on-course demeanor earned him the nickname “The Big Easy” is anything but. He's been that way for most of his career; he’s simply learned to internalize his emotions better than, say, Pat Perez.

Ernie Els
Ernie Els is in search of his third career U.S. Open title. (Getty Images)
Even after his opening-round 73 left him well within reach of an U.S. Open lead that at times seems like an illusion, the Easy was edgy, ducking over to Pebble Beach’s practice putting green for nearly an hour of layup drills.

The practice, and a pep talk from Chandler, paid off, and Els shot a 3-under 68 that felt like a 58 and is just two shots off the 36-hole pace set by Graeme McDowell.

“I asked him, what are you nervous about, you’ve got three (majors) already? It’s not life or death,” Chandler said.

For those picking an over-40 league for this week’s Pebble Beach Open Phil Mickelson, who turned 4-0 on Wednesday, was a layup. Els, however, was an easy sleeper.

Els nearly swept the month of March on Tour, winning the WGC-CA Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational and captaining the Lake Nona side to a Tavistock Cup victory. He’s also the preeminent Open expert, non-Tiger Woods division, having won two U.S. Opens and a respectable B Flight Open.

You remember Els, the guy who became a Trivia Pursuit answer for all the wrong reasons the last time the national championship descended on the Monterey Peninsula.

“He won the other golf tournament, didn’t he?” said Chandler, referring to Els’ runner-up showing to Woods in 2000 by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach.

But that was a different time. Before injuries to head and heart and body threatened to end a Hall of Fame career. As for the knee injury, the South African can happily say he’s finally 100 percent, and he’s learned to draw strength from his son, Ben, who was diagnosed with Autism in 2008.

As for a full mental recovery, that remains a work in progress. His 15-stroke supporting role in ’00 was just one of many major misses, most at the hands of Woods. Few in the history of sport has suffered the curse of bad timing like Els.

But his game started showing flashes of old form last year and his Florida Swing success was a good first step.

“Those two wins were massive,” Chandler said. “It was just as exciting for him to win at Doral than it was for Rory (McIlroy) to win at Quail Hollow. You knew Rory was going to win. But Ernie needed that.”

Els is also rested after a hurried spring during which he felt “golfed out.” He also recently reunited with long-time caddie Ricci Roberts. Roberts and former NHL player Dan Quinn are sharing duties this year, but this week in NoCal having Roberts on the bag has been like a warm blanket.

And, of course, he’s back at Pebble Beach, as close to a links layout as one will find in a U.S. Open rota. So much so Els had nearly all of the bounce taken off his sand wedge this week, just like he does at a British Open.

“It's almost links golf on steroids, with the rough and the grass around the bunkers,” Els said. “I really like the setup.”

If Els is scared he didn’t play like it on Friday, posting five birdies on a golf course that doesn’t have that many birdie holes. But then, it’s not a golf course that scares a 40-year-old with a Hall of Fame resume, it’s a fear of failure.

With heart and body healed, the rest is up to Els. Succumb to the scar tissue or learn from it.

“The expectations are there, obviously. And I probably fell victim to that a little bit because I had many – numerous chances of winning majors, which I didn't.  I've won three and I look back at it now, I'm pleased to have done that,” said Els, who has finished second or third ten times in a major, including three consecutive runner-ups staring at the 2000 Masters. “I'd like to think I've got quite a few more left.”


Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.