Herein lies the problem with Western civilization and many of Ernies conquests ' he goes about as far away as possible to win sometimes. He also wins his fair share in the U.S. (two U.S. Opens) and Europe (a British Open). But when the venue is the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club ' well, we're just flying blind when we try to come to grips with what this win really means.
Methinks there really should be the proclamation. Perhaps it's just our American prejudice when we tend to look down our noses at an overwhelming win such as this. There were some pretty good players who were in this field.
K.J. Choi was there from the U.S. tour, as well as Paul Casey. Thomas Bjorn, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Colin Montgomerie, Michael Campbell, Peter OMalley, Nick Faldo, Alex Cjeka, Peter Senior all were there. Els didnt win against a field of sherpas ' indeed, there were just about as many recognizable names there as there was in New Orleans.
Ernie was chugging along nicely when he was playing in the States, too, by the way. The first three tournaments, he finished T3, 2nd, T6th. But then he fell overboard, finally finishing 47th in his last appearance in these parts ' the Masters.
So, he tweaked the ol swing a little. And ' voila ' a 13-stroke win! At least we think, voila.
He says the 47th at the Masters did it. He decided to make some changes before the slide went too far. He tied for sixth two weeks ago the first time he tried it - at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Beijing, when he admitted he didnt quite trust the new moves. Last week, though, he just obliterated the field, starting with a second-round 62.
'I'm a little surprised it came so fast,' said Els. 'But I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do and the changes made it a little easier to focus.'
He said going back to the Ernie of old, instead of barging in for a totally new swing, was really beneficial.
One thing which really helped was when David Leadbetter sent me some pictures from when I was swinging really well, said Els on his website Monday. I was able to study those images and pick out the things I wasnt doing quite so well; basic stuff like posture and ball position.
After a week this week at home outside London, Els returns to the U.S. the following week for the EDS Byron Nelson. He will be in America for a month, then head east to Europe. But he is excited to see where his swing changes will take him.
This is a great confidence booster for me,' he said.
'My goal this year is definitely to win a major, but I've got to take small steps like I did this week and hopefully it will lead to big wins.'
Els won twice earlier on the European Tour, in Dubai and Qatar, but there was still some question of how good the fields were. Then came the runaway last week, and Els is convinced, even if some other observers arent quite yet certain.
One facet that Ernie was particularly proud of last weekend was his composure while protecting his big advantage.
I've been around for quite awhile and experience has helped me having big leads,' said Els, who resumed with an eight-stroke lead after completing six holes in fading light on Sunday.
'It's not the easiest thing in the world. Your mind can wander, but you can't be afraid. It's a good test of character.'
The question still remains, why does Ernie do this? The citizen of South Africa insists it is because he considers himself a world player. Cynics have suggested it is because of the handsome appearance fees he commands, plus it might be easier to ring up wins at some of the venues he plays.
The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. No doubt he considers himself a world player, but an appearance fee of $500k to $1 million certainly makes up for a lot of lost income. The BMW Asian paid Els the equivalent of a little more than $245,000. Tim Petrovic earned $990,000 for his win at New Orleans. But when you factor in Els appearance fee, the final payout may have been roughly the same. So Els isnt penalized too much by playing in the out-of-the-way places.
What could Els be if he confined himself to playing primarily in the United States? Heaven only knows. But if this swing change thing is as positive in the future as it was last week, he may not need the U.S. He will be a jillionaire regardless.
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