Els still believes he can qualify for Masters


ORLANDO, Fla. – Two days after turning a one-stroke Transitions Championship lead with two holes to play into a one-stroke deficit, Ernie Els claimed that he’s already put the loss behind him.

“Sunday night wasn’t great,” he said at the Tavistock Cup on Tuesday. “I thought I was OK, then yesterday [David] Feherty gave me so many one-liners that I was like, man, I’m back in shock again after what he said. But it was all in good humor. I think I’m much better now, and I feel like I’m working on things and just pushing through to play better.”

Els has competed in each of the last 18 editions of the Masters Tournament but is not currently in this year’s field. He can get in by moving from 62nd on the Official World Golf Ranking into the top 50 following this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational or by winning next week’s Shell Houston Open.

“I think I have two good opportunities coming up,” he explained. “For some reason, I thought about it quite a bit last week, but this week so far, I’m not thinking about it at all.”

Though he maintained that he hasn’t spoken with anyone from Augusta National about a possible special invitation, that isn’t the route he would prefer to get into the field.

“I don’t want to hope for that,” Els said. “I don’t want to put anybody in a situation where they feel they need to give me an exemption. It’s an invitational event, but as far as we are concerned, you have to qualify for the Masters, so I don’t even want to think about that.”

Then again, he wouldn’t turn down an invitation, either.

“Well, you can’t,” he said with a laugh. “But I don’t think that’s the way you want to get in. You want to get in through qualifying.”

Watch highlights and behind-the-scene action from the Arnold Palmer Invitational pro-am Wednesday at 5 and 9PM ET.