Happy New Year to you all and welcome to my first weekly blog of 2018. Let’s hope the next 12 months are full of good times, health and happiness.
It’s hard to believe this will be my 30th season as a professional golfer, but let’s face it, there’s probably no better way to start things off than by hosting and playing in the BMW SA Open hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni. This is such a special tournament for all South African golfers and it’s great to see so many home players in the field this year. Thank you guys. We also happen to have three Masters champions teeing it up at Glendower, including my good friend Mike Weir who is playing on South African turf for the first time in 15 years. Good to have you here, Mike.
As I’ve said many times, I take very seriously my commitments as the tournament’s official host. To be involved in a capacity where you can give something back to this tournament is just a phenomenal gift. Saying that, my primary focus is still to play, compete and try to win here. Old habits die hard! Glendower has always been an incredible course, the best in the Johannesburg area, and the team have got it in great shape; the rough is up and the greens are slick. It’s just great to be back and playing in front of the home fans. The support is amazing, so thank you in advance to everyone who attends this week and helps create such a buzz around the golf course.
In fact, as usual, I find myself giving thanks to a lot of people. Thank you to our sponsors, particularly the City of Ekurhuleni and BMW who are doing a standout job in helping us grow the SA Open. Thanks to the Nomads and all the volunteers; we couldn’t do this without you. Thanks also to everyone at the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour and for making Els for Autism and the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation the beneficiary charities. Lastly, and importantly, thank you to all the members of Glendower Golf Club for giving up your beautiful course.
For anyone planning to be here this week, there are lots of activities all around the property that are designed to make the fan experience as enjoyable as possible. That includes the availability of several wines from the Ernie Els Wines portfolio. They’re all wonderful, but maybe give the Cabernet Sauvignon a try. It’s been getting lots of great reviews and industry ratings just lately. An impressive 92 points from the prestigious Wine Spectator magazine particularly caught my eye.
For anyone thinking of coming along, click here for tickets. And if you’re simply watching from afar, sit back and enjoy the action from the 107th edition of the second oldest national open in world golf. It sure is a proud week for South African sport and long may that continue. For me and for all of the established home players, we have a responsibility to ensure that this tournament is sustainable and thriving for generations to come. We’ll continue working with the Sunshine Tour to achieve this shared vision, to keep pushing the message out there and try to attract more of the world’s best players. We’ve got this nice date in the schedule now and it’s clear to see how the tournament can continue to go from strength to strength.
Here’s a quick heads-up on a couple of other things that might interest you. We’re getting the ball rolling on the New Year social media activities by running a prize competition this week, with the generous support of three of my partners, SAP, ECCO and 18Birdies. Thanks guys! We’ll have more details across Facebook and Twitter later in the week, so keep an eye out for that. As for my tournament schedule through January, I’ll be staying on the European Tour the next two weeks, playing in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and then in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Looking forward to my time in the Middle East, as always.
Looking further ahead, the 2018 Els for Autism Golf Challenge, now in its eighth year, will tee off for the first time with an exciting new preview event at Stanford GC in California on Monday, 12 February. I’ll be there giving a clinic and we’re fortunate to have Steve Peck of SAP and Gary Gauba of CenturyLink taking care of the hosting duties. It should be a really fun day, at a great venue, with all funds raised going to charity. On this occasion, 90 per cent of the proceeds go to Els for Autism, with the remaining 10 per cent towards helping the victims of the recent horrendous wildfires in California. For details on how you can take part, please click here.
Talking of worthy causes, we heard news over the festive period that one of the TOUR’s all-time good guys, Jarrod Lyle, recently underwent a third bone marrow transplant. Of course, we all send him our heartfelt best wishes. You can donate all through January to help Jarrod’s family. Again, just click here for more details.
Okay, that’s it for now. Follow me on Twitter @TheBig_Easy.