Pebble Beach - This week's US Open is the 18th straight for Ernie Els, the longest consecutive streak of any player in the field, one ahead of Phil Mickelson and two better than Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh.
But other than his second place finish 15 shots back of Woods in 2000 at Pebble Beach, the Open has become just another week for Els. While most players would be thrilled with 10 top-25 finishes in 17 US Open starts entering this week, Els's opinion of his US Open performances is always tempered by the titles he won in 1994 and 1997 that instantly raised his own expectations.
Major championships - and US Open titles in general - went from being a great accomplishment, to an expected result.
"(In) 2000 I came here, and finished second, although I was never really in the ball game. And I haven't really done too much since then. I might have had a couple of top-10s or top-5s since then, but not really something really spectacular," Els said. "You know, I had a great start to my major campaign. And as I say, I've won two, won another Open Championship, but I haven't really capitalised on the chances I've had."
Els has played well this season at times, inconsistently at others. He won back-to-back titles at Doral and Bay Hill in March, but wasn't able to translate that into a strong showing at The Masters, where Els finished in a tie for 18th. Els has played only three times since Augusta - missing the cut twice, sandwiched around a third place showing at the Texas Open.
When Els arrived at Pebble Beach on Sunday, it was his first visit since the 2000 Open, he said. His preparation for this week included a trip to Pine Valley with his dad and a practice round at Pebble when he arrived on the Monterey Peninsula.
"As a venue I don't think you can get a better venue any place in the world," Els said. "So it's great to be back."