Els May Come Back Even Stronger


Anecdotal evidence regarding the boating accident that forced doctors to operate on Ernie Els left knee last week keep arriving in bits and pieces.
Monday we learned on Els own website that another surgery'one that will include the reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament on the damaged knee'is planned.
Meanwhile Els agent, Chubby Chandler, has informed me that the boating accident occurred while Els was playing with his children. Chandlers best guess is that the next surgery is about two weeks away. And, he said, Els is committed to a fitness regimen during rehab that will make him fitter.
The silver lining in this dark cloud of a development that will cause Els to miss the PGA Championship next week and the Presidents Cup next month is this: Els may come back stronger than ever.
That suggestion comes from top 100 golf instructor Mike Malaska. One of Malaskas specialties is the biomechanics of the golf swing. And, he says, Els action will make it easier for him to recover from ACL reconstruction.
Unlike, say, Tiger Woods or Adam Scott, Els doesnt hyperextend his knee as much through the ball. He has more lateral movement and, because of that, doesnt put as much pressure on the knee.
Malaska also points to advances in the state of the art of arthroscopic knee surgery. Twenty years ago, Malaska says, this could have been a career ender for Ernie.
Els has never dedicated himself to physical fitness the way Woods and Vijay Singh have. Malaska suggests the education Els is about to receive regarding the moving parts of the knee will give him religion in the gym.
Woods underwent non-reconstructive knee surgery in 2002. And some insiders have suggested that the swing changes he has been working on with new teacher Hank Haney reflect his awareness about the importance of a stable left knee.
Malaska says surgeries need to do two things: Fix the pain and address the source of the pain. Woods surgery was a result of wear and tear. Els surgery was the result of an accident.
You watch him swing and instantly realize why they call Els The Big Easy. Its a swing thats built to last. And now, assuming the doctors dont find something unexpected when they look more closely, Els, the third-ranked player in the world, will probably get another good chance to improve that number.
Meanwhile dont be surprised if Els plays competitively in his home country of South Africa before the end of this calendar year.
He is a good guy. And he is a tough guy.
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