Els blog: Set for debut at winner’s-only event
Jan. 16, 2012
This is an exciting week for European golf with the staging of the first ‘tournament of champions’. This is a limited field event with no cut and is open only to European Tour players who have won an event on the previous year’s European Tour, which in my case was the South African Open at Durban CC. It’s an exciting week for me personally, as well. This is my first tournament of the New Year and there is always a buzz that goes with that, even for a seasoned pro like me! It’s also being played at Fancourt, which I love. I have to applaud Volvo for bringing such a tournament to South Africa. It’s shaping up to be a great week for everyone.
And South African golf is in great shape at the moment, which is apparent by the number of South Africans in the field this week. Dr. Hasso Plattner’s vision in creating the Links at Fancourt, and Gary Player’s wonderful design, is the perfect stage to showcase the many wonderful golf opportunities offered in South Africa.
I have great memories of playing at the Links at Fancourt, both in professional events including the Presidents Cup, and also while on holiday here. It’s justifiably ranked as the best golf course in the country and I am really looking forward to the week.
This is my first proper tournament since the Dubai World Championship at the beginning of December, so obviously it’s hard to assess my current form. But I played very nicely in the Ernie Els Invitational at the end of the year, shooting 64 and 66 over the two rounds, and I’ve shot some really low numbers in social games with friends these past couple of weeks. All the signs are positive. I just have to find a way of taking that form into a proper tournament and sustaining it over four rounds.
Like I said in my end of year review, I think momentum will be the key to how my year starts to take shape. I feel like I need to get some decent results early. A win is obviously my goal, but even a couple of solid top-10 finishes — basically four steady rounds of golf — makes a difference to your mindset going in to the following week. You feel more comfortable and quickly you’re targeting wins, not just top-10s.
We’ll see how this early part of the season goes, but as you can imagine, I’m very committed to doing the absolute best I can. I need to have a better year in 2012.
We’re getting quite a few emails inquiring about when my tournament schedule will be on the website, but we’re just not quite there yet. There are a few things to finalize yet and we’ll post it as soon as we finish it. That shouldn’t be long, I promise.
OK, that’s about if for now. I’ll write again soon.
Jan. 4, 2012
I’ll start my first website report of 2012 by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. I hope the next 12 months are full of good health and happiness for you and your loved ones. At the end of the day, that is what’s really important in life. These past few weeks I’ve been having a great time with the family down in our house down in Herold’s Bay, South Africa. It is lovely for us all to be together, which as you can imagine doesn’t happen very often. One of the consequences of a tour pro’s life, you might say. Basically, it was real ‘switch off’ time and that’s just what I needed.
Still, I like to balance my downtime with some activity, as well. I’m not one for sitting down and doing absolutely nothing for days on end. It’s been great catching up with family and friends and enjoying some of the beautiful spots and things to do along the famous Garden Route here on the Western Cape. Also, I put in some time at the gym and I’ve enjoyed playing some social golf these past couple of weeks. Staying ‘on the ball’ during this off-season makes the switch from holiday to work go that bit smoother and it means I can hopefully get into my stride a little more easily.
I know for a lot of you reading this you’ll be back at work already. For me, the holiday period isn’t quite over, but it will soon be time to grab my clubs and head to my first tournament of the year. Often in the past that would involve a long journey, especially when I started the season with tournaments in Hawaii.
This year it’s a different story. My first tournament is the Volvo Golf Champions at Fancourt starting on Jan. 19. That is literally just down the road, so I don’t even have to pack my bags for that one. I can sleep in my own bed and still enjoy some good old home cooking. There are maybe only two or three tournaments a year where I can do that, so it’s a real treat.
Actually Fancourt is a treat any time you play it and I’ve had some memorable experiences there over the years, notably in South African Opens and in the Presidents Cup. I also filmed my first ever instruction book and video there and that’s going back even further in time … all the way to 1994, in fact! It’s a special place and the Links is a great golf course. I can’t think of a better location to tee off my new season.
Trust me, I always look forward to getting back into the swing of tournament golf. The first tournament of the new calendar year always feels like a new beginning. I love it. And even after 20-plus years as a tournament professional I still get excited about the prospect of a year’s competitive golf ahead of me.
I am busy finalizing my schedule and will post it as soon as possible. In the meantime, I can tell you that straight after the Volvo Golf Champions I’ll be switching my attentions to the PGA TOUR where I’m entered into the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines at the end of this month. Then it’s the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in mid-February followed by the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship at the end of February and The Honda Classic during the first week of March.
That’s about it for now. I’ll write again very soon.