AVONDALE, La. – Ernie Els may have come up short of a victory at the Zurich Classic, but his return to the Big Easy after a decade absence was clearly a success.
The Big Easy fell to Jason Dufner in a sudden-death playoff, failing to land his first win since 2010 and secure a return trip to the Masters after missing it this year for the first time since 1993. Els had his chance with a 5-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole for the win. He left it short and low. The miss and resulting loss left him disappointed but not discouraged.
'That's a disappointing thing but to play 72 holes, four days of golf and have a putt to win, that's a negative and positive. It's one of those things,' he said.
The result was somewhat unexpected given Els had never seen TPC Louisiana before this week. Els last played in this event in 2002 at English Turn, staying away from the Big Easy because of obligations on the other side of the world.
'I had a contract in Korea with Ballantine's, and I went there for four years. The Tour has been all over me to come play, and so I came back,' he said Saturday. 'I wanted to come but with the money and the contract in Korea, it was a different case.'
In his return, Els was able to enjoy the Crescent City – a place whose vibe agrees with his moniker.
'I've been downtown and eating down there in the French Quarter and it's great. Good people. My kind of town,' Els said with a smile. 'People like to have a good time. I don't mind that.'
Els also certainly enjoyed being in the cauldron of contention, assuring his return.
'Playing good golf was a lot of fun. Just sorry I didn't win,' he said. 'I'll definitely come back.'