Player celebrates Els's win

2012-07-23 15:39

Stellenbosch - Last December, Gary Player left a message on Ernie Els’s cellphone. “I told him I believed he would win a Major in 2012,” says Player.

On Sunday, Player could well have left another message on Els’s cellphone. Something along the lines of, “Told you so”.

South Africa’s most successful golfer could hardly contain his delight for the man who has carried the country’s flag on international fairways after him.

“I am so excited for Ernie, but my heart is broken for Adam Scott. He’ll never forget this. But that’s the nature of the game,” Player said.

“But I’m so pleased for Ernie. He’s had a rough time. Not long ago he was 65th in the world. I kept saying he’s got so much talent, and like most people I was frustrated by his performance. This is really going to rejuvenate his career.”

Player says that with five holes to go and Scott seemingly unstoppable, he still had a feeling Els could win.

“I know what the pressure is like in that arena. Ernie was holing some good putts, and when he holed that putt on 18, I knew he was going to win. Then, when I saw Adam Scott take a three-wood off the 18th tee, I was convinced Ernie would win. Adam either had to take driver or an iron to eliminate that bunker he went into, and he did the unforgivable by going with a three-wood.”

Much like Player was to the generation of Els and Retief Goosen, Els has served as the torchbearer for younger major winners in Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen.

South African golfers have now won three of the last nine majors, which ties this country with the greater collective golfing might
of America. American golfers have also won three of the last nine Majors.

“We’ve got so many young golfers coming through the ranks in South Africa, and Ernie’s victory will again reinforce that if you work hard you can achieve in life,” said Player.

This week the Sunshine Tour’s next generation of professionals will be hoping this message rings true for their careers when they tee it up in the third Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament this season at the De Zalze Golf Club in Stellenbosch. This six-tournament series is the single biggest on the Sunshine Tour and plays a vital role in developing the careers of South Africa’s young professionals.

In 2010, the series celebrated Els’s career and contribution to South African golf. Jean Hugo won in Stellenbosch that year, and this week he’s another South African thrilled with Els’s Open triumph.

Hugo was still an amateur when he played in the 1999 South African Open alongside Els.

“I finished ninth in what was a good week for me. I played with Ernie and the memories I have of that experience are brilliant,” he said.

This year’s series celebrates another South African major winner in Retief Goosen.


  • Squeegee - 2012-07-23 16:22

    SA golf is tops. We only have 0.7% of the world's golfers but more than 10% of the top 100.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-23 18:09

      if he had ernies body he would have won 1000 majors

  • dronkie.donkie.1 - 2012-07-23 16:53

    Except USA, South Africans have won more majors than any other country in the modern era (since WW2) Great stuff!!!

      jan.kotze.7 - 2012-07-23 17:55

      Why the thumbs down for Dronkie.Donkie?? Facts are facts!!!!!! Same applies for the thumbs down for squeegee.pilot.

  • frank.vankaapstad - 2012-07-23 17:54

    Yes, it is pretty remarkable that SA has produced so many major winners in spite of the US, Europe and Aus having far superior golf development programs. Ernie's foundation has managed to produce players like Louis Oosthuizen and Brandon Grace. It's great that politics can't intervene into privately funded organisations like Ernie's because look at the results: they nurture world class players. If they keep up the good work I'm sure it won't be long before they unearth a player of colour and that will be fantastic for golf in our country.

  • ekke.oupa - 2012-07-23 19:52

    "Gary Player left a message on Ernie Els’s cellphone. “I told him I believed he would win a Major in 2012,” says Player. " How does the journalist obtain information of this kind?

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-23 20:09

      Gary players actually said 'I won 176 tournaments and I'm 4 ft 3’

      keith.staniford - 2012-07-23 21:36

      He used to work for the News of the World newspaper.

  • andrew.harrison.7587 - 2012-07-23 20:00

    Up the BUCS!!! Well done Ernie!!!

  • keith.staniford - 2012-07-23 21:32

    Ernie must have got stuck into the oude Meester at halfway house!

  • boereroo.jackman - 2012-07-24 05:44

    Well done Ernie. Gary you don't have to feel too bad for Adam. He still won a million bucks and gets to go home to Anna Ivanovic. How it that devastating?

  • Dakey - 2012-07-24 08:58

    I'd love for SA to dominate world golf with all the up and coming youngsters and then eventually make a case for a 5th major in South Africa. It is ridiculous that 3 of the 4 majors are all in front of partisan US crowds.The PGA should push for equality, perhaps keep Augusta and the US Open, but part with the PGA for a more international venue.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-25 00:04

      i do not support that idea. do not cheapen the majors by having one here. why do we deserve it over australia or continental europe?

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-25 00:04

      keep it at 4 and thats it, thanks

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