Ernie’s Latest News – 29 January

29 Jan

So, we’re now back home in Florida after back-to-back tournaments over in the Middle East.

Obviously, it was disappointing to miss the cut both weeks. We never got any momentum going in Abu Dhabi, but I played quite nicely in Dubai and made a bunch of birdies; in fact, five in a row on Thursday. Then after some fog delays on Friday, we came back early Saturday morning to finish the second round and I played those holes in 3-under par. I was feeling pretty good about my game, so it was a shame to not get a chance to compete at the weekend. Just so happens it was the lowest cut in the tournament’s near 30-year history, at 5-under par, and I was in the group of players on 4-under.

Still, I want to thank the sponsors and organisers in Abu Dhabi and in Dubai, and the fans who came out to support us. It’s always a pleasure to play golf in that part of the world and I look forward to returning in future years.

Anyway, in these first few weeks of the New Year we’ve been able to announce some exciting new partnerships. I’ve become a Brand Ambassador for Bloodline Golf, having started using their putters in May last year. I fell in love with the feel and roll the first time using the putter. Then, the more I worked with the Bloodline technology, the more it was helping my confidence and also my consistency. I got talking with the guys and one thing led to another. I just felt like I wanted to be involved, because products that can make this kind of an impact on people’s games don’t come around very often.

I’m also proud to be on board as the new Global Ambassador for XXIO’s, which together with Srixon and Cleveland, forms the family of sports brands of Sumitomo Rubber Industries. Srixon and Cleveland are well-known brands in golf with a proven track record. I’m familiar with the company’s products so that’s an easy fit for me. In fact, I won both my US Opens using Cleveland wedges and I’ve always loved those clubs.

XXIO is a less familiar name in certain parts of the world…but trust me, this company is really going places! They’ve been the No.1 equipment company in Japan over the past 17 years, now the market leader in Korea and New Zealand, and the growth has been dramatic. XXI0 has a range of high-end, high quality products and innovative technologies that help the average golfer get more out of their game. I’m all for that. They have big ambitions, too. One of the things I’m looking forward to is being able to assist in their product development and, with me playing an international schedule, also help create brand awareness as the company expands around the world. These are the kind of multi-dimensional, professional partnerships that really interest me. It’s good to be part of the team.

Looking ahead, we’ve got some testing sessions lined-up in the next week or two and that’s going to enable me to get my clubs sorted for the year. Then we can just go play.

On that note, from next week I’ll be turning my attentions to the PGA TOUR with a really nice run of tournaments starting on the West Coast at Pebble Beach and Riviera, before we come back to the East Coast for the Florida Swing. It’s a time of the year that I love and the bonus is these events are played at some of my favourite courses. Even after all these years on TOUR, it’s still exciting to go back and tee it up somewhere you’ve won or maybe just have fond memories of. We have the best office in the world! We’re very lucky.

One final thing, the team at Els for Autism in South Africa have just released the tournament schedule for this year’s Drive to Sun City, supported by KWS Logistics. You’ll probably remember this series as Drive to SA Open, but this year we’ve taken a different approach. As before, we play a bunch of tournaments at some great venues around South Africa, at the same time raising funds for Els for Autism. Winners of each event qualify for a Grand Finale, which this year takes place at Lost City Golf Course the week before The Nedbank Golf Challenge. Winners of the Grand Finale then get to tee it up in the Nedbank Pro-Am, so that’s a really amazing opportunity for the golfers taking part in this series. For more details, email southafrica@elsforautism.org. Thank you for your support.

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