Nedbank Golf Challenge

Ernie feels for SA duo after Presidents Cup snub

2019-11-13 07:00
Ernie Els
Ernie Els (Getty Images)

Sun City - International captain Ernie Els admits he didn't enjoy having to select his wildcard picks for December's Presidents Cup.

The 50-year-old last week named Jason Day of Australia, Canadian Adam Hadwin, Sungjae Im of Korea and Joaquin Niemann of Chile as his four selections.

South Africa's top ranked golfer Louis Oosthuizen will be the only local representative in Els' 12-man team. 

This will be the first time since 1998 that South Africa will only have one player competing in the biennial match play event.

Els, who received a tournament invitation to compete at this year's Nedbank Golf Challenge, revealed that South African duo Branden Grace and Erik van Rooyen were considered.

"It was a tough one. I didn't enjoy it to be honest. There were many guys in there, especially a lot of my really close friends," said Els on Tuesday in Sun City.

"Branden Grace was right there, and I went against him. So that was really tough for me to do. Erik van Rooyen started playing great. It was tough to do that, not getting him on the team..."

Grace, who has appeared in three Presidents Cup events, has had a dip in form this season - dropping to a ranking of 119th in the world. 

Meanwhile, Van Rooyen has had a breakthrough European Tour season, claiming his first title at the Scandinavian Invitation and achieving a career-high ranking of 51st.

Els believes that with this International team could break their winless streak stretching back to their only ever victory in 1998.

"I had to go with what I believe in and it's for the best interests of the team. But I really felt for those guys," said the four-time major champion.

"The team is set on both sides and now it's me getting my pairings ready and that's what I'm focusing on now.

"Getting the guys to play with each other in practice rounds and so forth and get familiar with each other's games. They have just got to get their form going. If they get themselves in form, if they play to their abilities, I think we can really win the Cup."

The Nedbank Golf Challenge gets underway on Thursday at the Gary Player Country Club.

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