All the latest news and stories from the world of golf, Ernie Els Design, Ernie Els Wines, and across Ernie’s various philanthropic interests, plus a dip into the archives for a standout moment in Ernie’s career.
1. Ernie discusses plans and prospects as Captain of the Presidents Cup team
Ernie teed it up in the recent Zurich Classic of New Orleans and, in the days leading up to the tournament, gave a press conference with his playing partner and Presidents Cup assistant captain Trevor Immelman. Together, they discussed their plans, ponderings and prospects for this bi-annual contest against the United States taking place this coming December at the iconic Royal Melbourne. Here we share some of Ernie’s comments…
“It’s great to be here and to have the opportunity to try out a few pairings, with an eye on the Presidents Cup. Obviously there’s a long way to go before we get to the stage where we have our eight qualifiers and four captain’s picks. This is the only tournament of its kind; not everyone is here, but from the players who were available we’ve tried to work on some pairings. Scotty and Jason is an obvious potential pairing in December. It’s not like that’s a secret! They’re great friends and I’m happy that they want to play together. When they’re on their game, they are two of the best players that you’ll ever see.
“As I said, what we do here in New Orleans might not be exactly what we do in Australia, but it gets the guys used to playing a different format, playing together in foursomes and fourball. It’s also a really good team building exercise; we’re all staying in the same hotel, we had a great dinner together on Tuesday night, drank a few glasses of wine! It just helps break the ice, gets everyone familiar with each other before we get to Australia. There’s no science to it. It’s a natural process. We need to hang together as much as possible, play some practice rounds together, play events like this, it all helps get everyone bonding as team.”
“We’re working on a slightly different approach to previous years, although we don’t want to get into too much detail here obviously! I’ve been around a lot of teams as a player. So too have our assistant captains. We know what works from that perspective, so I’ve approached a lot of things with my player’s hat on, so to speak, and basically we’ll use the knowledge and experience that we have to help everyone on the team play their best golf.”
The selection process…
“The new selection process is big for us. The one-year qualifying criteria is a positive move and will mean that we can hopefully have eight guys who are really on form. Being able to pick our final four has the same effect; we can pick four guys who are playing well at that time. Basically, you want all your guys playing their best golf as we get nearer the competition.”
Behind the scenes…
“You’ve got to take care of the little things. The more you look at it, the more there is to consider. We might have 10 nations represent our team, a lot of different cultures, different diets, food preferences, and so forth. Even the room selections in our hotel are a factor. It all makes a big difference to how a player feels on the week. They’re the things we have to take care of and make sure we get everything right for the guys. Seriously, these little details add up.”
Talking to the players…
“I’m playing a pretty full schedule on the PGA TOUR, plus some events in Europe. I’ve also played a few events in Asia these past few months. I’ve been paired with some of the guys, which has been great, and with others we’ve had a lot of private chats. My message to them is ‘just play’. There are a lot of big events, majors and WGCs in the coming months. Play well in those and the rest takes care of itself.”
“I’m working hard on my game, playing quite nicely and enjoying my golf. Obviously my life is going to change when I turn 50 in October. I’ll play some Champions Tour golf, for sure, but also some events on the PGA TOUR. We’ll see how things shape up nearer the time. For now, all my spare time and energy will be focused on my team and how we can do a great job in Australia.”
The psychology of matchplay…
“These guys can obviously all play! For me, in matchplay, mentality is 80 per cent of the battle. Good preparation is key to a good mindset. I know the golf course at Royal Melbourne really well [Ernie won three consecutive Heineken Classics there in the early 2000s] and hopefully I can help my team there. We want to feel like we’re playing on home turf, get the fans behind us from the get-go, and that will give the players a big boost. It’s a lovely feeling to feel like you’re playing in front of a home crowd, so to speak. From my recent visit there, talking to various people, it feels like the Australian public will be right behind us.”
Using data analytics…
“Absolutely, we’ll be using all the data analytics available to us. It’s kind of a no-stone-left-unturned approach. We look at all aspects of a player’s game – physical, mental, analytical – and throw it all together into the mix and see where we are.”
2. Ernie joins Puma as one of its global brand ambassadors
PUMA Golf, an innovation and style leader in apparel, accessories and footwear, announced last month that it had signed Ernie Els to a multi-year agreement as a global brand ambassador. As part of the partnership, Els will wear the brand’s footwear during his professional events. Els brings his Major Winner credentials to a star-studded PUMA stable that includes fellow Tour professionals Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland and Lexi Thompson. PUMA also sponsors many of the world’s leading football teams, players and motorsport brands.
Els will wear PUMA’s IGNITE PWRADAPT and NXT family of shoes on Tour. The PWRADAPT family of footwear features a cutting-edge traction system with 3-dimensional traction pods and responsive cushioning with IGNITE Foam, for the ideal blend of industry-leading technology, style, comfort and performance. A Comfort Construction mesh bootie replaces a traditional tongue for improved fit, comfort and support, while the PWRFRAME, an ultra-thin TPU frame, is strategically placed in high stress areas on the shoe’s upper for lightweight support and enhanced stability that golfers need to play well on all surfaces and slopes.
“I’m excited about this new relationship with PUMA,” comments Els. “I’ve been wearing their golf shoes since the start of the year and honestly I feel like it’s really been a factor in me catching some form of late. I just feel more grounded with these shoes, like it’s giving me a firmer foundation in my swing. What I also like is the shoe combines stability with lightness and comfort. That’s a tough trick to pull off, but the guys at PUMA have nailed it. I’m very happy to be part of the team.”
“We are honored to have Ernie wearing our footwear and representing our brand on Tour. He is an icon in the international golf world, with an exemplary career both on and off the course, and a huge global presence. We’re excited to welcome him to the PUMA family,” said Dan Ladd, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing, COBRA PUMA GOLF.
As part of this new partnership, Els will work with the PUMA team to help influence and design colorways and styles of future PUMA golf shoes. “I understand what golfers needs in terms of how a shoe can actively help you play to the best of your ability,” says Els. “It’s rewarding to be able to share that with a company like PUMA and to know that they’re going to create another golf shoe that has the looks and innovation to match the performance that a golfer craves.”
About PUMA GOLF
PUMA Golf is a corporate division of PUMA, one of the world’s leading sports brands, designing, developing, selling and marketing footwear, apparel and accessories. PUMA Golf is an inclusive company, promoting game enjoyment for golfers of all abilities, attitudes and styles. The brands full-range portfolio includes sport lifestyle inspired footwear, apparel and accessories that fuse performance and style. PUMA Golf brings a focus on style, innovation, technology, compelling design and superior performance with an edge to the global golf marketplace. For more information, cobragolf.com/pumagolf.
3. USGA special exemption hands Ernie his 27th US Open start
The USGA has granted Ernie a special exemption to tee it up in the US Open at Pebble Beach, the first player since Hale Irwin to receive such an exemption in consecutive years. It will be the two-time champion’s 27th appearance in the US Open and his third at Pebble Beach; he finished runner-up there in 2000 and third in 2010.
“I’m grateful to the USGA for extending me an invitation to this year’s US Open,” comments Ernie. “It means a lot to me and I’m really excited about teeing it up at Pebble Beach; I had a couple of nice runs in past US Opens there. Obviously, this tournament is kind of where it all started for me, winning my first title way back in ’94 and then again in ’97. For me there are so many wonderful memories from this great championship. It’s really been a great run and it’s exciting for me to be able to keep that story going.”
This will be Ernie’s 103rd appearance in a Major Championship, which places him 13th in the all-time list. He also has an impressive 35 top-10 finishes in all Majors.
The 100 Majors Club: All-Time List
1. Jack Nicklaus – 164 majors
2. Gary Player – 150 majors
3. Tom Watson – 145 majors
4. Arnold Palmer – 142 majors
5. Raymond Floyd – 127 majors
6. Sam Snead – 119 majors
7. Ben Crenshaw – 118 majors
8. Gene Sarazen – 112 majors
9. Tom Kite – 109 majors
10. Mark O’Meara – 110 majors
11. Bernhard Langer – 107 majors
12. Phil Mickelson – 106 majors *
13. Ernie Els – 103 majors *
14. Sir Nick Faldo – 100 majors
* including 2019 US Open
4. From the Archive
1st May: On this day in 2005 Ernie won the rain-delayed BMW Asian Open at Tomson Pudong Golf Club in Shanghai by 13 shots, the biggest winning margin of his career and his tenth wire-to-wire win on the European Tour. His 26-under par aggregate included a third round 62, 10-under par, wrapped-up with an eagle on the final hole.
Commenting the next morning, Ernie said, “It’s funny how things turn around in the game. I came into this week, my confidence wasn’t there and I was kind of searching for my golf swing a little bit. But right from the start in this tournament I felt like my game was in nice shape. It just goes to show, if you maintain a positive attitude and keep working hard, you can always turn things around.”