Editor’s note: Ernie Els is writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM during the 2012 season. This is his most recent installment. Please visit www.ernieels.com for more information on him.
I guess you could say this year’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational kind of went true to form. I love this event and this golf course, but for some reason my record is not great. I haven’t had a top-10 or sniffed a top five here for many, many years and as much as I wanted – and tried – to have a decent tournament, it didn’t work out. I just wasn’t on the radar all week, to be honest. I put together a nice round of golf on Saturday to shoot 68, but there’s not much more to say, really. We move on!
When I woke up this morning it was nice to hear the news that I’d won The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for July following my win at Royal Lytham. It’s always great to be named Golfer of the Month. Obviously it means you have done something pretty good and in my case this time it was for a very special achievement in my career, winning my fourth major championship. The whole thing happened quite fast after I finished that final round. I was praying just to get in a playoff, but then it finished the way it did. I still feel for Adam, but this one just happened to come my way for once. In golf you lose a lot more than you win, but as I’ve said these past few weeks I am sure Scotty’s time will come in a major.
Anyway, moving on from one major championship to another. I’m at Kiawah Island nice and early this week so I can really dial in my preparations for this week’s PGA Championship. The whole family is with me and we’re renting a house so we can all be together in the evenings. I much prefer it that way during majors.
So, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island … what a place. It’s a spectacular location and it is no surprise that the course is rated No. 1 on Golf Digest’s list of the toughest 75 courses in America. Pete Dye doesn’t really do easy! It’s a fair test, though. There are very few blind shots and everything is right there in front of you. I like that.
At 7,606 yards from the tips and with a breeze blowing in off the Atlantic Ocean, we know it’s going to be challenging. I remember watching the Ryder Cup here in 1991. Guys were busting long irons and fairways woods into the par-3 17th on that final day. In practice rounds, I hear it was an 8-iron. Ocean winds can do that. And with 10 holes running alongside the ocean at Kiawah, there aren’t many other courses outside of the United Kingdom where the wind plays such a huge part as it does here. If the wind really blows like we all know it can, I reckon over par could win this championship.
I’m really excited about the challenge this week. As everyone knows, I relish the opportunity to play in the wind. That was one of the keys to me making up the deficit in the final round of the Open at Lytham, a day when the wind got up for the first time in the championship. I love days like that. I love using my imagination, creating different types of shots for the conditions, really adapting to what’s in front of you. That’s my kind of golf. I think also the greens here at Kiawah, which will be more Lytham-like in pace than super-quick like at Firestone, will suit me pretty good.
The last few weeks I’m not sure I was quite ready to produce my best golf, after the whirlwind and the physical and emotional energy that you use to win a major. This week will be different, though. As I said, I’m here nice and early. I’ve got time to do my stuff at my own pace, basically play my practice rounds and get ready for the tournament, but also relax and conserve my energy.
It’s going to be a great week. In the first two rounds I’m paired with this year’s other major winners, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, which has become the tradition in this event. It’s a nice touch and I’m sure they’d say the same thing as me – you just want to prepare well and then try to put yourself in position come Sunday to have another shot at a major. That’s what it’s all about.
Bye for now.