It was Els, ironically, who was absent from the European Tour's previous two events, the South African Open and the Dunhill Championship, which were actually held in his home country.
But, it turns out, for a couple of good reasons.
First, Els turned in one of the best performances of his career by winning at the PGA Tour's season-opening Mercedes Championship, and in the process set a PGA Tour 72-hole scoring record of 31-under par.
He followed it up with a win in the Sony Open to go two-for-two in Hawaii, thus sending a loud warning to the rest of the European Tour that their fun is over, and that the Big Easy will spell big trouble in any event in which he enters.
Just when the young guns on the European Tour were taking flight, as seen by 23-year-old Trevor Immelman's victory in Cape Town, the old guard is back to rule the land and make life a little tougher on the likes of Immelman, Nick Dougherty, and Justin Rose.
Arjun Atwal will do his best as defending champion to keep Els from attaining a hard-to-imagine perfect record in 2003.
Mark Foster, winner of this past week's wild six-man playoff at the Dunhill Championship, is schedule to play, as is Anders Hansen, one of the five players Foster beat in the extra-hole affair.
This is the third year the tournament is being played at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club and the total purse is set at $899,000, with first place fetching $149,000.