Ernie Els will be a one-and-done Presidents Cup captain.
The 50-year-old Els, who captained the 2019 International team in a 16-14 loss last December at Royal Melbourne, told Morning Read on Thursday that he will decline any further captaincy positions.
“That’s as good as I can do,” Els said. “I gave it all. This is another change I wanted to make in our team. I get one opportunity, win or lose. You don’t get a second chance.”
Els reportedly told his players the Sunday night of their two-point loss to Tiger Woods’ U.S. side, which rallied in singles to overcome a two-point deficit after three days. He then mulled the decision “numerous times” in the next month or so, even meeting with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in West Palm Beach, Florida, in early January.
Monahan asked Els to reconsider, but after returning from a PGA Tour Champions event in Hawaii late last month and discussing the matter further with wife, Liezl, Els knew he was making the right decision.
“I’m, like, I want to do it,” Els said. “There is so much of me that wants to do it, but I know the hardest thing is to step away. I can understand why people become dictators. You can get hooked on that power.”
Said Monahan: “Ernie did an amazing job, poured his heart and soul into the event. As he had an opportunity to think about how much he put into it and how much it took out of him and the system he put in place, it was clear he wanted to move the system forward, and that meant having someone else in position to captain, which was one of his vice captains from Melbourne.”
The International team under Els made huge strides in an event that has been lopsided since its inception. Since the first edition in 1994, the U.S. has gone 11-1-1 in the Presidents Cup, but Els’ group marked the first time in 16 years that the Internationals had led entering singles.
Els expects the work he’s done to be built on by future captains. The 2021 Presidents Cup captains are expected to be announced during the Florida Swing in March, at either the Arnold Palmer Invitational or Players Championship. Els’ assistant captains last year were K.J. Choi, Geoff Ogilvy, Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir, and it’s likely that one of those four guys will get the nod for next year’s matches at Quail Hollow.
It certainly won’t be Els. He’s done captaining – with one exception.
“If [the Cup] ever goes to South Africa and I’m not too old,” Els said. “I’d like to be considered for that one.”