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Proceeds will benefit the Els For Autism Center of Excellence

OAHU, HAWAII (Jan 11, 2011) – Ernie Els announced today from the Sony Open in Hawaii the official launch of “Els For Autism Golf Challenge,” the largest charity-driven national amateur golf tournament in US history. The Els For Autism Foundation, in partnership with Els’ longtime sponsors, SAP and Callaway Golf – with participation from their broad families of partners and customers – will actively help form teams for the Challenge.

Els, whose son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism four years ago, stated, “I’m thrilled with the incredible support from SAP and Callaway and their partners. With their help, we’ll be able to raise the funds to deliver the best treatment possible to children on the autism spectrum around the world.”

The Els For Autism Golf Challenge will utilize the PGA TOUR’s TPC clubs and others to host 32 Super Regional events across the US. Teams of two with a maximum individual handicap of 24 will compete in each Super Regional event. The low net winning team and the highest fundraising team from each of the 32 events will move on to a final two-day extravaganza in Las Vegas in late October. These lucky 64 winning teams will compete for extraordinary prizes including luxury trips of a lifetime to South Africa courtesy of Mantis, the world leader in sustainable tourism, and with travel arrangements by Giltedge Travel, the leading luxury tour operator in South Africa. Winners will also receive Callaway Golf personal fittings and complete sets of golf clubs. In addition, all entrants will be eligible to win a six-day Ultimate Irish Links Golf Tour sponsored by IRISH LINKS.

All proceeds from the Challenge will go to the Els For Autism Center of Excellence, a catalytic project that will offer a global digital learning platform, plus a state-of-the-art education and research facility, to families all over the world with children on the autism spectrum – a disorder that affects one in 110 children and one in 70 boys.

The schedule of events is available at Each team will register on the site, have their own team page, and will choose their own child on the spectrum that they play for (their “Honorary Captain.”). They’ll be able to e-mail their page to friends, family and colleagues who will be able to text, make online, or mail in donations. Each team will be given a goal to raise a minimum of $2,500 to compete in their chosen TPC event.

In addition to SAP and Callaway’s corporate families, the PGA of America will encourage private and public golf courses to hold feeder tournaments where the winning team will be awarded a place in a Super Regional TPC event. Els For Autism and its partners will work with the entire national autism community to galvanize local support, awareness and registration for the 2011 Els For Autism Golf Challenge.

“Years from now, people may remember me as a golfer and a major champion. But I’d like also to be remembered as somebody who took the issue of autism and did something with it,” said Els. “The rest of my life, I’ll be fighting this thing…I hope you’ll join with me.”

In the past few weeks, Els has been named “One of the Top Five Most Positive Athletes in the World” by the United Nations NGO Voting Academy and he has become a Top-10 finalist for the Jefferson Award for Public Service. He will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in the spring of 2011.

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