Ernie Els was in good spirits ahead of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, which has been a fruitful tournament for the four-time major champion.
‘There was a while, 10 or 12 years, where I was really on form here. If I wasn’t in the top three or five it was a surprise. It’s sounds like I’m boasting a bit, but I enjoyed this event so much,’ he said.
The tournament was a stepping stone for The Big Easy, who won in 1994 as a precursor to his epic career.
‘I just came off a hot run in December of 1993 and had won the Dunlop Phoenix Open in Japan. I was playing some good golf coming into Dubai, but shooting 61 was the most amazing start I’ve ever had.
‘I kept the momentum up and ended up playing with Greg Norman, who was the world number one back then, on the final day. I was nervous as anything, but I shot 71 and won by a couple (of shots). It was an amazing event for me and a big confidence boost,’ said Els.
On Tuesday the 46-year-old weighed in on the course and reckoned that scoring would be tough, especially if the wind gets up.
‘The fairways are straight Bermuda, and they’re quite firm and very tightly mowed, so there is quite a bit of run. The rough has been overseeded, so it’s very thick, so ball striking is going to be at a premium. The greens are really fast and firm, so we’ll really enjoy that. Depending on weather and wind, not such a low score will win this week,’ he said.
Els has managed to shake some of his putting problems in the last two weeks and was excited for his week in Dubai.
‘I’m really looking forward to the season, because I’m starting to enjoy my putting again. It was well documented that I went through a lot of strife on the greens, but I feel a lot better and more confident. The results are not quite there yet, but I’m working on it,’ he said.