Can Ernie make it 5 majors?

2012-07-23 12:11

Cape Town – A rejuvenated Ernie Els, fresh from hauling in Adam Scott so stirringly to win the British Open, suddenly has a shout at banking a place within the top 20 greatest golfers ever in terms of major titles.

GALLERY: Ernie Els wins the Open

The 42-year-old South African, now sporting four majors of his own after being stuck on three for a decade and seemingly a fading force until events at Royal Lytham on Sunday, shoots from 40th back to 15th in the world rankings and may even feel he has one or two further successes left in him among the quartet of blue-chip tournaments on the annual calendar.

Els moves alongside late compatriot Bobby Locke on four majors, and will advance to standalone second most productive South African in history – Gary Player still sits very safely placed as this country’s primary pride with his nine, and a top-fiver on the all-time list – if he can make it five.

The last major of the current year is the PGA Championship (an event Els has never won) from August 9-12 at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.

It is possible that even Els himself isn’t sure at this stage how long his top-flight career will continue for, but the globally popular “Big Easy” does have some time on his side, if history is a measure, to add to his quartet of major triumphs.

The oldest major champion, after all, is Julius Boros, who won the 1968 PGA Championship aged 48 and four months.

Boros, coincidentally, sandwiches the list of top 10 oldest major winners at both ends, considering that he also won the 1963 US Open, at the age of 43. Between him on that chart are such names as Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin and Raymond Floyd.

The Hungarian-American Boros died in 1994 after a heart attack while seated on a golf cart – the year in which Els recorded his maiden major success at the US Open.

In 1984, Player very nearly eclipsed Boros as oldest major winner: also in the midst of his 49th year at the time, the Black Knight finished just behind champion Lee Trevino at the PGA Championship.

Player had won his own last major, the 1978 Masters, at Els’s current age of 42.

And in a huge fillip for all top-level golfers fitting into the 40-plus bracket and even considerably above it, Tom Watson (eight career majors) was almost responsible for one of the most age-defying sports feats of all time just three years ago.

It was then, aged a jaw-dropping 59, that he ended joint-top with Stewart Cink at the 2009 British Open at Turnberry only to succumb, physically and mentally exhausted, in a four-hole playoff.

At the time it had been an amazing 25 years since Watson last won a major, the 1983 British Open at Royal Birkdale.

Els currently sits among 27 golfers to have achieved four majors or more (Nicklaus’s 18 rules the roost, with Tiger Woods nearest on 14).

But if he can snaffle a fifth he would climb to within the ranks of an even more elite 18 to have achieved that tally or more.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • Squeegee - 2012-07-23 12:50

    You can do it Ernie!

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-23 13:48

      just make sure mandela is still alive otherwise he cant win because mandela makes him win apparently

  • Andrew - 2012-07-23 12:59

    Ernie, keep playing the way you have this year and many for victories will be in the bag!!

  • sean.bagley.50 - 2012-07-23 13:19

    Sure Els can.Nick Faldo said yesterday,as part of the BBC commentary team, that Els has at least got 2 to 3 major titles to win in him,so yes he can do it if Els plays like he did or even better as he did on the back nine yesterday afternoon.Els had been in the golfing wilderness for quite some time now before yesterday's win,even briefly slipping out of the world's top 50 at one point.But he's right back in it now with the big names in golf where he belongs. I still don't see how Luke Donald,as nice of a fella that he is,still remains to be at the top of the rankings being number 1 even when he can't seem to win a major title.Finnishing consistently in the top 5 or 10 like he does in majors is not the same as actually winning the damn thing,and yet Donald stays at the top.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-23 13:57

      nick faldo said it so it must be true nick mallet said stormers will win the super 15 we have a new oracle!!! luke donald is the most boring and least dominant world number one since greg normal

      sean.bagley.50 - 2012-07-23 14:24

      @tom.tardis Nick Faldo also said early yesterday morning about half an hour before play started, that Adam Scott is a notorious final round collapser in Major tournaments and look what happened to the poor lad Scott.The proof was indeed in the pudding. So don't be so anti-Els or anything South African for that matter like your mindless "pie" ranting and raving BS you came out with the other day under the cricket headlines and that is now continuing in a different rant, and start showing some respect to professional opinions made by people like Faldo and others even if you don't like what they're saying. Your beloved Bulls are out of the Super15 competition and this is the best way for you to vent your anger because of that by trolling on these pages?Shame on you lad.Grow up will you and move on.Stop behaving like such an a**h*l* all the time.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-23 15:21

      i love ernie els. dont be so serious bud, why u so ANGRY!!!!!? because nick faldo would not approve and neither would the KFC fanatic nick mallet. i love what he is saying. and hope ernesto brings home some more majors. you just cant handle a bit of a jokey. relax brotini. but thanks for the long reply to my trolling, im flattered. ;)

  • Bazzpete - 2012-07-25 16:29

    Not sure that Ernie "hauled" Scott in - more like Scott abseiled below Ernie?

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