Ernie ready for PGA assault
Kiawah Island, South Carolina - Four-time major winner Ernie Els may still be fresh off his British Open victory, but don't think he isn't ready to contend at this week's 94th PGA Championship.
The 42-year-old South African says he had a bit of a lull after his stunning victory at Royal Lytham and St Anne's, but now his mind is clear and his focus is back.
"It is really nice to be here as a major champion again," Els said during practice on Wednesday. "It has been quite a few years.
"I feel whenever you have a good routine, the pre-shot routine into your golf shots, and you're clear in your mind of what you want to do, there's not too many things flying around in your head.
"And I think that obviously started at the US Open. I felt that and obviously it was a lot better at the (British) Open."
Els said he was on a high and there were a lot of distractions immediately following his British Open victory. But now he has had a couple of weeks to settle things down and round his game back into shape.
"After I won at the Open, I went to the Canadian, I wasn't quite ready to play golf. But now it's been two good weeks.
"Obviously I would have loved to have been home instead, either in London or in Florida. But I had my schedule, didn't play great golf, but over the weekend at Firestone, I started doing some really good work again and could feel my energy coming back and I really started setting my sights on this event.
"I've had really good preparation here this week."
Els is renting a South Carolina beach house with his family just down the road from the Kiawah Island Golf and Country Club. The beach house is also the temporary resting place of the Claret Jug which goes everywhere with Els these days.
"It is travelling with me," said Els, who went a decade between his two British Open titles.
Els, who is ranked 15th in the world, is playing in his third major of the season. He finished ninth at the US Open and did not qualify for the Masters.
He has the difficult task of trying to follow up a British Open title with a PGA Championship win. The last player to do it was Padraig Harrington four years ago.
Winning back-to-back majors is a rare feat indeed, but in recent years no-one is even winning two majors in a single season. The last 16 majors have had 16 different champions.
Els says with so many good young players coming into their own that pattern may not last very long.
"It seems like a generation comes through every ten years," he said. "And within that ten-year span of a generation, you get certain players that pop up. In our generation, obviously Tiger Woods popped up and he won quite a few majors in his ten-year span.
"I think we are on the brink of getting to the next generation. Who knows, the Keegan Bradleys, Rickie Fowlers, Dustin Johnsons, Adam Scotts, they have not started winning a lot of majors. Keegan has won one and he can win a couple. The next ten years we could see similar guys win majors again."