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Els: Winning a major takes toll on body and mind

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GULLANE, Scotland – Winning a major is becoming increasingly hard work, and it has nothing to do with the 72-hole championship.  

This year, after his stirring Masters victory, Adam Scott had two short talk-show interviews and then took a month off, enjoying the spoils of his win in the Bahamas.

After his hard-fought victory at the U.S. Open, Justin Rose went on a whirlwind media tour in New York City and played the following week, an exhaustive journey that forced him to withdraw from the AT&T National (and he hasn’t played since.)

Ernie Els knows the feeling. A year ago, after winning the British Open, the then-42-year-old honored his commitment to play the RBC Canadian Open but missed the cut. He had only one top-10 the rest of the year, the hangover lasting longer than a few morning hours. Indeed, not even the Big Easy could escape the time-consuming demands of being a major winner.


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For Els, the entire experience was nothing like 1994, when he won the first of his four majors. In the days after his maiden major triumph, he did an interview on the “Today Show,” posed for pictures at the 18th green at Oakmont, and then flew with his wife back to London, back to the cottage he had rented from Renton Laidlaw. “We just kind of hid from the world there,” he said Monday.

“It’s the whole instant media thing,” he said. “It can get very, very busy. From a physical standpoint after a major, there’s so much concentration, so much that your body after it wants to release. You’ve got to have a way of doing that. Sometimes it’s getting away, not going into the spotlight. It takes a while to get back into that real intense state.”