Background & Professional career
Ernie Els is a professional golfer who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. His father was a big fan of sports and encouraged Els as a child to participate in all of them. As he got older, he began to shift his attention to golf. He started beating his Dad and ultimately became a scratch handicap (the highest level of rank you can receive).
Els’ first ever tournament victory was the Junior World Golf Championship, in which he beat out Phil Mickelson. After that he became the youngest winner of the South Africa Amateur Championship ever. Els is nicknamed the “Big Easy” because of his 6’3″ frame and his long strides.
During his professional career he compiled 68 tournament wins, and in 1998, he was ranked the number one player in the world. (He is the only African golfer to be ranked as high as the top seed ever.) However, this ranking only lasted for 4 weeks. Another accomplishment Els was a part of was “The Big Five.” He was one member of the Big Five to go along with four other golf legends: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, and Retief Goosen. Els ranks 5th among all golfers on the all-time money leaders ($48,811,711).
In 2016, Els was embarrassed at the Masters when he six-putted a hole and didn’t make the cut. They call that the “yips,” when the little things get to your head and you make them harder then they seem. Often this is due to over-thinking and making careless mistakes.
“I can’t explain it,” Els told The Telegraph. “I couldn’t get the putter back. I was standing there, I’ve got a three-footer, I’ve made thousands of three-footers and I just couldn’t take the putter back.
After reading numerous articles and Twitter posts I have came to the conclusion that Els’ playing days are over. In an interview with Golf, Els said that it is difficult to win in your late 40s, and he understands that golf is just a game and there are much bigger things in life. This is something that the media doesn’t always see. What Els refers to as “the whole picture” includes caring for his family and learning how to be a better dad.
Family & Autism speaks
Els has two children, Samantha and Ben, with his wife Liezl. Els and Liezl got married in the Cape Town in 1998. Their son Ben was born with autism, which he revealed in a story with the Associated Press in 2008. Els has done much in the way of fundraising for people with autism. His website, Elsforautism.com, encourages others to get involved and help. Els has the “Autism Speaks” logo on his golf bag.
“Like any family will tell you, it’s not easy. And it’s a change of life, a change of priorities. You’ve got to be ready for it. And it’s happening more often. I never knew about it, never thought about it, until it’s in your lap.” – Ernie Els, Associated Press
Elias Sports Bureau, . (n.d.). Ernie Els . In ESPN. Retrieved April 24, 2017, from http://www.espn.com/golf/player/_/id/123/ernie-els
AP News, . (n.d.). Els discloses son has autism, seeks attention for research. In GOLF . Retrieved April 24, 2017, from http://www.golf.com/ap-news/els-discloses-son-has-autism-seeks-attention-research
AP news, . (n.d.). More to the Big Easy than just his golf. In GOLF . Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://www.golf.com/ap-news/more-big-easy-just-his-golf
Gray, J. (2017, January 18). Tiger Woods return: Age should NOT be an excuse, claims Ernie Els. In Express . Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://www.express.co.uk/sport/golf/755614/Tiger-Woods-return-Farmers-Insurance-Open-age-no-excuse-Ernie-Els