Ernie Els contended for a third U.S. Open title at The Olympic Club.
Ernie Els will be writing a weekly blog for PGATOUR.COM this year. Here is his most recent installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.erniels.com.
Right after finishing my final round at Olympic I was disappointed to have let slip a chance to win my third U.S. Open, but having had a night to sleep on it I can reflect more clearly on the positive aspects of my performance. My mental attitude was good all week and I played really well on what was a very tough golf course. I had a couple of train wrecks out there, on Nos. 4 and 16, and ultimately I guess they cost me the tournament. I’m contending again, though, and that means a lot. I feel I have a chance now and that I could win another one of these majors. I’ve got my belief back.
Of course, golf is always about ifs and buts and everyone has their story to tell. I have to say, though, apart from those two holes that I just mentioned I played the rest in 4 under for the week. That’s a measure of how strong my game is right now.
After a first-round 75 I played well on Friday to shoot 69 and get myself into a decent position. Saturday is always moving day in any tournament, although in the U.S. Open if you shoot level par you’re moving! It’s that kind of week. Walking to the sixth tee in my third round I was 3 over and some way out of contention, so to come back strongly and play the last 12 holes in 5 under was amazing. And the shot I holed on No. 17 for an eagle-3 was very special. That type of moment in a major is what dreams are made of. More importantly, a score of 68 helped put me in great shape going into the final round, just three shots behind the leaders.
I was really excited about my chances on Sunday. Experience helps in these situations and you need to be patient, which I feel is one of my virtues. I made a bit of a slow start, but when I made that eagle putt on the seventh hole I was right there in the mix. That’s where you want to be. It’s why you practice all those hours.
I just lost my momentum the next couple of holes. On the eighth I had an unlucky break and came up short, which is still a mystery to me, and on the ninth I three-putted to make bogey. Again I bounced back. I made birdie on No. 12 and coming down the stretch I felt like I mostly did what I needed to do. At the very least I wanted to get in the playoff, but I miscued on No. 16 and that’s the shot that cost me. That’s the one that really hurt. As I said earlier, I was very disappointed after I’d finished my round.
I’m not going to beat myself up about it, though, because when I look at where I was this time last year and where I am now it’s a huge change for the better. The whole week at Olympic Club I was a lot calmer and I felt much more in control of my game and my emotions. As I said at the start of this report, I feel like I’ve got my belief back. That’s a really good sign going forwards.
Talking of which, obviously we’ve got two more majors left this year and I’m very much looking forward to them both, especially the Open at Lytham where I’ve played well before. To be honest, I can’t wait to arrive there and get started.
For now I’m going to take a nice break and basically regroup. I want to focus on doing everything I can in the next few weeks to make sure that my game and my mindset are in great shape for the next time I tee it up.
I’ll write again soon.