Els Back in the Saddle in Switzerland


European TourWith their Ryder Cup team finally being determined, the European Tour gets back to pure golf this week at the Omega European Masters in Crans sur Sierre, Switzerland.
And none other than Ernie Els will take center stage as he makes his first appearance since the PGA Championship in an effort put the demons aside and try to become the first player since Seve Ballesteros back in the late 70s to successfully defend his title.
For Els, who had an incredible run through this year's majors but was disappointed after coming up empty handed, there are still some goals to attain. Most notably trying to repeat as the European Tour's Order of Merit winner.
He currently leads fellow South African Retief Goosen by approximately $436,000 and a second straight victory at the Crans sur Sierre Golf Club would go along way to securing his second money title.
Els almost lapped the field at last years event as he closed with a brilliant final-round 65 to beat out Michael Campbell by six shots. It was one of four European Tour titles Els won in 2003.
Thus far in 2004, the 34-year-old Els has not had quite the success he had last year in terms of victories, but his play is arguably the best it has ever been. In three of the majors this year, Els has lost by a single stroke and in the other (U.S. Open) he was in the final pairing on Sunday.
A possible repeat as champion is hardly far-fetched given the man dubbed the Big Easy has already successfully defended two titles in 2004. First came his repeat win at the Sony Open in Hawaii on the PGA Tour and then shortly there after he notched another back-to-back victory at the Heineken Classic in Australia.
Joining Els in Switzerland is Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who posted his fourth win of the year at last week's BMW International. Also in the field is 2003 runner-up Campbell and 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie.
The Golf Channel will broadcast all four rounds live beginning Thursday at 9 a.m. ET.
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - Omega European Masters