Ernie’s Latest News – 24 January

24 Jan

As I post this report I’m really looking forward to teeing it up in this week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club.

Before that, though, I want to reflect on last week’s SMBC Singapore Open and take a moment to congratulate Prayad Marksaeng on his victory and also thank the sponsors, the fans, and everyone involved in this tournament for the wonderful hospitality. This event is a credit to the Asian Tour and it was a pleasure to be back. As I’ve said many times before, it really is one of my favourite places to visit and a huge part of that is due to the warmth and friendliness of the people.

On a side note, as someone who enjoys professional partnerships with ECCO and the Asian Tour, it was good to hear the news last week that ECCO is extending its existing partnership with the Asian Tour as the Official Footwear Sponsor for another two years. ECCO has a strong and steadily-growing presence in the region, while the Asian Tour has long demonstrated a desire to partner with only the world’s leading brands, so this partnership is clearly an ideal fit…no pun intended!

Anyway, for me personally it hurt to miss the cut by one shot for the second week in succession. I love the course at Sentosa and it was in unbelievable condition, but it’s also a tricky golf course. It’s got some length and is sneakily long, so it’s not the easiest place to make birdies, especially as the greens are so huge. As in previous weeks and months, though, making birdies is not the problem for me. It is a few little mistakes here and there that are stopping the momentum. In fact, the physical aspects of my game are in good shape. I’m swinging the club nicely and hitting a lot of quality shots right through the bag. I’m rolling the ball nicely on the greens, as well.

So, moving on to this week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha GC. Sitting in the middle of the European Tour’s superb ‘Desert Swing’, this will be the 20th playing of this wonderful tournament, so that’s going to be quite special. My win here in 2005 was a while ago now, but this is my ninth appearance, and my fifth in succession, and I love this tournament.

Also it’s a course that I feel very comfortable on and always enjoy the playing conditions. The weather is always nice and looks great for the week. We tend to get some windy conditions, especially in the afternoon, but at the moment it looks like it should be fairly light and consistently from the South East all week. The wind doesn’t make it easy, but it makes it interesting and you have to adapt and really work your golf ball. If it’s calm, the course doesn’t play anything like as long as it looks on paper, so you have to make the most of that and try to get yourself on board the birdie-train.

Last year I started this tournament hitting 18 greens in regulation for a stress-free, bogey-free 68. When you’re talking about momentum, as we were earlier in this report, that’s the kind of start you want.

Before we sign off, I just want to bring to your attention to the launch of this year’s Els for Autism Drive to SA Open series. I know that the SA Open only finished just over a week ago, but the year-long series of events and build-up to next January are already underway. Winners of each event will qualify for the grand final at Fancourt in November, where competitors will play for a spot in the SA Open Pro Am in January, 2018. Last year’s event was a huge success, with funds raised going directly to the Els Centre for Autism in South Africa. I’m told by Nico Van Rensburg, who organises these events, that the 2017 series is even bigger and better, with many more prizes up for grabs. For more information, email southafrica@elsforautism.org, or click here to view the full tournament schedule. Thanks as always for your support.

Finally, for many people in the golf industry this is a big week back in the US in Florida with the PGA Merchandise show taking place in Orlando. Obviously I won’t be there but I wish all of my sponsors and those attending an enjoyable and productive week.

Follow me on Twitter @TheBig_Easy.

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