By Ernie Els
I wasn’t in the mix in Sunday’s final round. But then again, nor was anyone else apart from Rory McIlroy! He was literally in a class of his own this week and I send him my congratulations on a second major championship.
It’s not often this kind of thing happens in majors, a guy winning by such a huge margin, but Rory has done it twice in the space of 15 months. He won by eight shots in the US Open at Congressional last year and he won again by eight shots here at Kiawah. He’s an exceptionally talented kid and this is really just the start for him. Man, what a great career he has ahead of him.
Rory has had a big lead going into the final round in both his major wins and, to be honest, he’s made closing out look almost easy. It’s not as easy as you’d think, though. In fact, it’s the big leads that are often the most nerve wracking. I’ve had plenty of tournaments in my career where I’ve been trying to close and had leads from one shot all the way up to seven or even eight shots. And, as I said, in some ways the big lead has more pressure. A one shot lead isn’t really a lead at all. I mean if someone makes a birdie it’s gone. But a big lead, it’s nice but if you give that up it’s a nasty taste in your mouth. You know that’s going to be a hard thing to take.
There have been plenty of great closers in this generation of players – obviously Tiger and Phil Mickelson. I also like to think I’ve done a pretty good job myself in that department. These young guys are learning pretty fast. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, like Rory did at Augusta in 2011, but that’s golf. You have to learn somehow and often it’s the painful losses that you learn from most.
So that’s it for the majors this year and obviously I’m proud that I managed to get my name on of them. 2011 was the biggest slump of my career. 2012 is the year when I got my belief back and I’m happy with every aspect of my game, both mentally and physically. I can’t wait to tee it up in the majors next year.
Charitable contributions are welcome to reigning Open champion Ernie Els’ ‘Els for Autism’ Foundation. Visit elsforautism.com for details