By Ernie Els
Saturday is what we call ‘moving day’, when ideally you want to manoeuvre yourself into a good position going into the final round. Conditions were pretty challenging (there are no truly easy days on the Ocean Course!) but it was not nearly as tough as the previous day. There was certainly a decent score to be had out there.
At the start of the day I figured I needed to break 70 to give myself a strong chance on Sunday, so obviously I’m a little disappointed with a score of 73. I hit a lot of quality shots out there, I’m swinging it well, and I’m feeling very comfortable over my putts. It just hasn’t quite come together for me this week. That happens.
Anyway, that 73 puts me at four over par for the championship. Although the leaders have yet to finish their third rounds due to play being suspended late Saturday, realistically I’m too far back. So maybe I can’t win from here, but there is a lot to play for still. Ranking points and professional pride are more than enough of an incentive.
It’s interesting seeing Vijay right up there challenging for another major championship at the age of 49. Steve Stricker is in contention as well, trying to win his first major at the age of 45. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Golf has always been an enduring game, going way back to guys like Ben Hogan and Sam Snead who were very competitive in their 40s, through to Jack Nicklaus and my hero Gary Player who both won the Masters in their 40s. Then we’ve had the likes of Mark O’Meara and obviously Vijay doing the same. Hey, Tom Watson almost won the Open at the age of 59.
I was talking this week to Sir Nick Faldo about this subject. If you look after yourself and, crucially you stay in love with the game, there’s no reason why you can’t win majors in your 40s. Even before Lytham I guess I never stopped believing that.
Nick won six majors – although he won all of his before he hit 40 – and I’ve now got four. I may not add to that tally here at Kiawah, but I feel like I can win more. I’m really enjoying my golf again and that makes such a difference.
Charitable contributions are welcome to reigning Open champion Ernie Els’ ‘Els for Autism’ Foundation. Visit elsforautism.com for details