Els plans to trim playing schedule in 2014


Having just celebrated his 44th birthday, Ernie Els will soon begin to map out his playing schedule for 2014. According to the South African, it's an itinerary that is likely to include a little less golf and a little more family time than in years past.

"I haven't really got a game plan for next year yet, but I definitely have to play a slightly different schedule," Els told the Associated Press while in South Africa for this week's Nedbank Golf Challenge. "I've got to look at my schedule and see where I'm going to."

A four-time major champion, Els made 19 starts on the PGA Tour in 2013 in addition to seven starts on the European Tour. He explained that he now feels the tug to spend more time at home with his children, ages 14 and 11.

"It's always been difficult leaving the house, but now you really see your kids growing up and it gets more difficult," he added.

The South African appears set to follow in the footsteps of two of his peers, Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson, the former who trimmed his schedule this past year with great success and the latter who has pledged to play less in the coming year.

"A lot of us are in that boat now. Phil has kids the same age as mine, so does Stricker," said Els, who is teeing it up this week for the first time in a month. "Guys get to my age and your kids get to teenage years and it becomes a bit of a difficult scenario. It's getting tougher and tougher."

Despite plans to cut back on the number of tournaments he plays in 2014, Els still maintains a goal of once again hoisting a major trophy.

"I'm 44 and with the equipment, I can really stay with the longer hitters ... I feel I have a chance," he noted. "It's not going to be easy, but I believe there are one or two left, so I'll keep searching."