Before we get on and discuss this week’s tournament on the PGA TOUR, there are a few other items of news that deserve a mention.
First of all, big congrats to Jason Dufner at The Memorial. It’s good to see him back in the winner’s circle. Needless to say, it was disappointing to not be able to play at Muirfield Village in what is one of my favourite tournaments of the year, but Liezl and I were attending the school graduation ceremony for our daughter Samantha. Those type of occasions happen only once in a lifetime and no parent wants to miss that. It was a special day. We then all enjoyed a nice weekend at home together.
On Monday morning we had a captains’ visit to Liberty National Golf Club, which as you’ll know is the venue for this year’s Presidents Cup. There was some serious business to discuss – specifically, how we go about winning back the trophy after way too long now! But it was also a fun day and great to spend some time with the guys. Of course, Nick and me go way back and it’s an honor that he named me as one of his captains’ assistants. It’s a role that I’m keen to embrace 100 per cent. I do think it’s going to be an unreal Presidents Cup. I mean, to be at Liberty National with those wonderful views of the financial district and the rest of Manhattan, it’s such a unique venue, and the energy that comes out of that place is just crazy. I think it’s going to be a terrific week.
Staying on the east coast, I also want to tell you about a couple of events coming soon in our new Big Easy Winebar & Grill located in Miami’s Brickell City Center (pictured below). First, on Sunday June 18 there is a Father’s Day special, which is bound to be popular so be quick if you’re interested in that. Then a few weeks later on Saturday July 1 they are running a special promotion where guests have a chance to win a trip to South Africa and enjoy a tour of the Ernie Els Wines vineyard and tasting rooms, all sponsored by South Africa Airlines. For more information and for reservations at any of our Big Easy Winebar & Grills, visit the website: http://www.ernieelshospitality.com.
Meanwhile, back home in South Africa the Drive to SA Open is enjoying continued success and we’re getting great feedback from series organiser Nico Van Rensburg, who is doing a wonderful job. Just in the last couple of weeks there were back-to-back tournaments in Johannesburg, first at Houghton GC (pictured below) where I’ve won a couple of times including my first SA Open, way back in 1992. Our winners there last week, in a field of 104 players, were Anton Botha and Morne Van Rensburg with a score of 48 points. Thanks to our custodian that day, former Sunshine Tour player and Asian Tour winner Richard Kaplan.
Then the following week there was an equally strong turnout at Royal Jhb & Kensington Golf Club. Thanks to Imperial and Philip Michaux, who came on board as a sponsor for the day. It may be winter right now in South Africa, but this is Johannesburg folks! The temperature was 22-degrees and I hear a number of competitors wore shorts. Winners on the day were Willen Loots and Francois De Clus, also scoring 48 points. Our next Drive to SA Open day is on 22 June at St Francis Links, hosted by our good friend Jeff Clause. Visit http://www.ernieelscentre4autism.co.za/events.asp for more details on this, or any other event, in the 2017 series.
So, let’s return to the ‘day job’ and this week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis. You’d be right in saying this is the final tune-up for the US Open, but this is also undoubtedly a fine tournament in its own right. I’m looking forward to teeing it up here and trying to build further on some of my recent good play at the AT&T Byron Nelson and the BMW PGA Championship over in the UK. Let’s see how we go.
It will actually be only my third appearance in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, having made my debut back in 1995 when it was played the week after the US Open, not the week before as it is now. I played here last year also. It’s an historic tournament going back over half a century and it has a great sponsor that is obviously hugely committed to golf here in the US. As with every tournament these days on the PGA TOUR, there’s a strong charitable ethos. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital helps find cures for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases and over the years this tournament has helped raise more than $33 million for the cause. You have to applaud that.
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