We’ve played a couple of events since my last report, where you may remember we talked about the top-8 qualifiers for the Presidents Cup international team being announced.
Click here if you missed that.
The European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, was first on the schedule. This was the first year in its new slot, September instead of May, and there’s no question the tournament benefitted from that on a number of levels. It was probably the strongest field there in a number of years and, crucially, the West Course, modernised by Ernie Els Design this past decade, was in wonderful condition. The playing surfaces were the best I’ve ever seen and a number of other players – regulars over the years and newcomers to this event – said the same thing. Hats off to the greens staff at Wentworth.
Anyway, after a promising first round 68, I wasn’t able to keep pushing on. But it was an enjoyable week. It’s wonderful to be back at Wentworth, a home from home for me and the family. And, as always, the fans were incredible in both their numbers and in their enthusiasm and appetite for world-class golf.
After a couple of days rest, we then headed north to Scotland for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on those three great links courses – St Andrews Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. This is traditionally a low scoring event, especially when the weather is relatively kind, and you really have to get some momentum and make a lot of birdies to contend. My play was solid enough, but no more than that.
So, two great events back to back. Saying that, I agree 100 per cent with Rory McIlroy’s recent comments about the toughness of some of the layouts on the European Tour. When we toughened-up Wentworth’s West Course, 6-under par won that year’s BMW PGA Championship. We had so much blow-back from the players that we had to ease up on the course and now 20-under wins. I’ve always believed the flagship tournament and other top events need courses that are ‘major’ tough. Test the best!
Anyway, away from the golf course, the team from Els for Autism are just making final preparations for the Grand Finale at The Breakers Palm Beach in Florida. Liezl and I will obviously be there; it’s a fantastic weekend, a lot of fun, and it’s our way of saying thanks to everyone who has supported us in 2019. This year’s Golf Challenge, the ninth edition, has been another phenomenal success. We raised $3.2 million, once again exceeding our fundraising target. That’s a total of more than $24 million raised since we started this series in 2011. A truly humbling statistic.
Once again we’ve enjoyed the hospitality of a number of North America’s finest golf courses; thank you to all. And, needless to say, huge thanks to our family of donors, golfers, fundraisers and partners. You are all incredible and you are helping us positively impact the lives of individuals on the spectrum. For more information on the inspiring and groundbreaking work our brilliant team is doing at The Els Center of Excellence, please click here.
Elsewhere, the countdown to the Presidents Cup continues. As we’ve already reported, the top-eight members of the team are decided. We now have four wildcard picks, which will be announced in early November. Myself and our team of assistant captains have our eyes on a number of players; nothing we can reveal here though! All in all, there is much to consider in the next two months.
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Bye for now.