Another year at the Masters, another flop, and Ernie Els says he has had enough.
“I tell you it’s killing me,” he said after a third round of 75 quashed any remaining hopes he had for this year.
Making it all the more galling this time around is the fact that the big South African, six months into his fourth decade, came into Augusta as one of the hottest players in the tour.
In what signalled a distinct revival in his fortunes, Els won back-to-back tournaments in the build-up to the year’s first major at the World Golf Championship CA Championship and the Arnold
It all started well on Thursday as Els moved up the leaderboard early on, but a double-bogey six at the 18th took the wind out of his sails.
Thereafter, he was never a factor and by the end of Saturday’s third round, when he shot four over 39 on the back nine, he was a distant 15 shots behind leader Lee Westwood.
“That first day double-bogey on 18,” said Els shaking his head.
“I played beautifully … but to finish like that. It all
started going down to script until the 18th hole Thursday.”
The story line has seldom gone to plan for Els at Augusta, where he first teed off in 1994, the year he joined the US PGA Tour.
While he won US Opens in 1994 and 1997 as well as the 2002 British Open, Els has come up short at the Masters year after year.
It’s not that he was never in contention, having finished second twice behind Tiger Woods in 2000 and Phil Mickelson four years later despite a closing round of 67.
‘I’m just beating my head against the wall’
Since then he has struggled, missing the cut for the last three years and then this time around seeing all his bright hopes fail to materialise.
It has left the normally easy-going Els morbidly fatalistic about his chances of ever winning a Masters green jacket.
“If it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen,” he said.
“What can you do? I’m just beating my head against the wall every time.
“I’ve had a good attitude and the game was there [this year].
Everything was there. We just don’t gel. It has done it to a bunch of people and I’m probably one of them. I mean, go down the list — [Tom] Weiskopf, [Greg] Norman, [Johnny] Miller and many, many others.
“It’ll be something that’s a huge void in my career, but if I’m not going to do it, I can’t worry about this anymore.
“I’m killing myself and I don’t want to do it anymore.”
Els said he would limit his ambitions to bettering par in Sunday’s final round, after which he would spend a few weeks taking stock of things before moving onto the US Open at Pebble Beach and
the British Open at St Andrews — two courses he believes can be kinder to him than Augusta National.
“I’ve had a great start and I could win four, five or six tournaments this year and that’s what I’m looking forward to,” he said. – AFP