Ernie Els Back to Work After Break

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PERTH, Australia -- After a short break in Bali, Ernie Els is back at work. He has had an exceptional month, winning three tournaments in four starts and finishing second in the other.
 
Next up for the South African is the Johnnie Walker Classic, which starts Thursday and also features Sergio Garcia. The $1.68 million tournament at the par-72 course at Lake Karrinyup Country Club is sanctioned by the European, Asian and Australasian PGA tours.
 
There is some doubt, however, if Garcia can play. The 23-year-old Spaniard injured a hamstring kicking an Australian Rules football at a charity event and withdrew from a pro-am Wednesday.
 
'I'm going to keep treating it and I will go and hit some balls as well and we will see how I feel,' Garcia said. 'Whatever happens, I won't make any decision about playing until tomorrow.'
 
Els, winner of the Johnnie Walker in 1997, opened this year with back-to-back wins on the PGA Tour, then blew a lead in the final round to finish runner-up at the Caltex Masters in Singapore.
 
Just when it appeared fatigue set in, with Els 10 strokes off the pace going into the weekend at the Heineken Classic at Royal Melbourne two weeks ago, he shot 66-65 in the last two rounds to overtake Nick Faldo and Peter Lonard for the title.
 
With his eight-stroke win in the Mercedes Championship and his playoff win over Aaron Baddely in the Sony Open, Els completed the 'Hawaii 2-0' to surge to the top of the 2003 money list in the opening two weeks.
 
His win at the Heineken gave him five wins in seven tournaments and also helped close the gap on Tiger Woods, who has been sidelined following knee surgery.
 
Garcia knows that even if his leg were in good shape Els would be tough to beat.
 
'Ernie has been playing unbelievable golf,' he said. 'He's done something the last three months that I don't think anyone has done before.'
 
Retief Goosen won this event by eight strokes last year, despite a 1-over 73 in the final round. The South African has had two top-four finishes in three starts this year but his consistency has been overshadowed by his compatriot.
 
Also in the field is Nick Faldo, who won the Johnnie Walker in 1990 and '93, and 1996 champion Ian Woosnam.
 
Lee Westwood, the European tour leader in 2000, was a late addition. He will join young English trio Justin Rose, Nick Dougherty and Paul Casey, who won the ANZ Championship in Sydney last weekend.
 
Robert Allenby will lead the Australians, along with Craig Parry and Adam Scott. For Asia, there's Joyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal, both of India.