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Els not ready to take it easy

By Paul Arnett

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:13 p.m. HST, Jan 12, 2011


Dressed casually in a golf shirt and shorts, Ernie Els stopped by the Sony Open in Hawaii media room yesterday to reflect on a wide range of topics with an ease and aplomb that accompanies those who are the very best at what they do.

The two-time champion of this PGA Tour event and three-time major golf winner was asked how he is positioning himself toward eventual retirement, how he expects to do in the majors, what does he think of the rivalry between the Europeans and Americans, will he be a regular member on the Champions Tour, do people appreciate his worldwide resume or know how difficult it is to win, and the major transition of playing the Plantation Course one week and the Waialae Country Club the next.

As you listened to the half-hour's worth of responses on this picture-perfect day on Oahu, Els was funny one moment, serious the next -- particularly about his new tournament called the Els for Autism Golf Challenge -- and always honest with his responses.

He doesn't have the cigar-chomping delivery of a Rocco Mediate or subtle sense of humor of a Paul Goydos, but he does have that big easy kind of charm necessary when facing the media on a slow day at the golf course.

Els is well aware of what it takes to win over there on Maui and right here on Oahu. He's the only golfer to have done both. It's bombs and wedges away on the Plantation Course and shape-shifting patience at Waialae.

"For one, I'm not going to have to worry about my shins this week; going up and down those hills, carrying 228 pounds, gets to you a little bit," Els said as laughter filled the room. "This week is very flat.

"The adjustment is basically more of a positional game. You've really got to get yourself in the fairway; coming out of the rough this week you're not really going to have a chance at winning. You've got to position yourself all the time; shaping your ball left to right, right to left and being in control of your game."

Being in control of his own destiny is a goal Els has had for the last couple of years.

He will turn 42 in 2011, not exactly down-on-the-farm material, but his best days are probably behind him. He'd like nothing better than to get a win this year on the PGA Tour, so he can come back to Hawaii for the 2012 season opener. And win another major? Well, that's not beyond the realm of possibility, either.

"At least I made the cut at the Masters last year," Els said with a wry smile. "So, that was a step in the right direction. I've got a good chance. I've just got to get out of this putting streak. If I can putt like I did at Country Club in South Africa, I can win a major."

Now, about that retirement.

"I'm definitely not looking for retirement, but I'm definitely positioning myself for when that day comes," Els said. "I want to be in the right market, the right area. And that's basically what I'm looking at. I'm trying to take advantage where the opportunities are. And at the moment, it's in Asia."

Is the Champions Tour in your future?

"At the moment, no, not really," Els said, then smiled again. "I've got some time to figure that out. There could be some other events taking place over there (in Asia), so we'll see how the world turns."

As for all the young players joining the tour each year and the friendly banter between the young guns on the European and American tours, well, "I think you're going to see the battle there, between the lines you can read giving each other a little bit of lip. Which is great. I think it's great for the game. It's great for the rivalry between the two tours and bringing the Ryder Cup into it also."

And what about all those fresh faces joining him this week on Oahu? Well, he'd look at the PGA Tour media guide to see who's who; if they still had one in book form.

"I think it's a great event for them to get their feet wet, so to speak," Els said. "You walk around the range (here) and you think you're on a different tour. The old guys aren't there a lot of the time, so, it's nice because this is where they show their faces and start their careers."

 

¯¯¯¯¯

SONY OPEN PRO-AM TEE TIMES

Today
First tee
6:50 a.m.
Matt Kuchar
7:00 a.m.
Jason Day
7:09 a.m.
Rocco Mediate
7:18 a.m.
Adam Scott
7:27 a.m.
Stuart Appleby
7:36 a.m.
Jerry Kelly
7:45 a.m.
Jim Furyk
7:54 a.m.
Kevin Na
8:03 a.m.
K.J. Choi
8:12 a.m.
Bo Van Pelt
8:21 a.m.
Tim Clark
8:30 a.m.
Steve Stricker
8:39 a.m.
Vijay Singh
11:30 a.m.
Ernie Els
11:39 a.m.
Zach Johnson
11:48 a.m.
Davis Love III
11:57 a.m.
Brian Davis
12:06 p.m.
Robert Garrigus
12:15 p.m.
Boo Weekley
12:24 p.m.
Rory Sabbatini
12:33 p.m.
Brian Gay
12:42 p.m.
Fred Funk
12:51 p.m.
Marc Leishman
1:00 p.m.
Steve Marino
1:09 p.m.
John Senden
1:18 p.m.
Matt Jones
10th tee
6:50 a.m.
Ryan Palmer
7:00 a.m.
Anthony Kim
7:09 a.m.
Ryuji Imada
7:18 a.m.
Heath Slocum
7:27 a.m.
Carl Pettersson
7:36 a.m.
Paul Goydos
7:45 a.m.
Fredrik Jacobson
7:54 a.m.
Ricky Barnes
8:03 a.m.
Brendon De Jonge
8:12 a.m.
Camilo Villegas
8:21 a.m.
Jeff Overton
8:30 a.m.
Justin Rose
8:39 a.m.
Spencer Levin
11:30 a.m.
Robert Allenby
11:39 a.m.
Jason Bohn
11:48 a.m.
Davis Love III
11:57 a.m.
David Duval
12:06 p.m.
D.J. Trahan
12:15 p.m.
Charlie Wi
12:24 p.m.
John Daly
12:33 p.m.
Jonathan Byrd
12:42 p.m.
Arjun Atwal
12:51 p.m.
Shigeki Maruyama
1:00 p.m.
Charles Howell III
1:09 p.m.
Michael Sim
1:18 p.m.
Alex Prugh

SONY OPEN TEE TIMES

Tomorrow
First tee
7:10 a.m.
Aaron Baddeley
Josh Teater
Troy Merritt
7:20 a.m.
Shaun Micheel
Dave Eichelberger
Charles Warren
7:30 a.m.
Chris Riley
Duffy Waldorf
Paul Stankowski
7:40 a.m.
Heath Slocum
Carl Pettersson
Brian Gay
7:50 a.m.
Stuart Appleby
Justin Rose
Justin Leonard
8 a.m.
Derek Lamely
Mark Wilson
Davis Love III
8:10 a.m.
Troy Matteson
Marc Turnesa
Fred Funk
8:20 a.m.
Chad Campbell
Brian Davis
Spencer Levin
8:30 a.m.
Tommy Gainey
Michael Thompson
Matt McQuillan
8:40 a.m.
Chris Kirk
Nate Smith
Tadahiro Takayama
8:50 a.m.
Michael Putnam
David Hearn
Peter Tomasulo
9 a.m.
David Mathis
Daniel Summerhays
Kevin Hayashi
11:40 a.m.
Alex Cejka
Roland Thatcher
Blake Adams
11:50 a.m.
Ryuji Imada
Steve Marino
Matt Jones
Noon
John Merrick
Michael Sim
Jeff Klauk
12:10 p.m.
Matt Kuchar
Steve Stricker
Ryan Palmer
12:20 p.m.
Jason Day
Anthony Kim
Vijay Singh
12:30 p.m.
Arjun Atwal
Cameron Beckman
Pat Perez
12:40 p.m.
Paul Goydos
Alex Prugh
Michael Connell
12:50 p.m.
Tim Herron
Shigeki Maruyama
Jeff Overton
1 p.m.
Cameron Tringale
Ben Martin
WC Liang
1:10 p.m.
Jim Herman
Brendan Steele
Koumei Oda
1:20 p.m.
Scott Gutschewski
Jarrod Lyle
Steven Bowditch
1:30 p.m.
Kyle Stanley
Martin Piller
Joseph Bramlett
10th tee
7:10 a.m.
Steve Flesch
Joe Durant
Shane Bertsch
7:20 a.m.
Jeff Maggert
Webb Simpson
Jimmy Walker
7:30 a.m.
Jesper Parnevik
Jason Dufner
Ricky Barnes
7:40 a.m.
Jonathan Byrd
Jim Furyk
Ernie Els
7:50 a.m.
Robert Garrigus
Adam Scott
Camilo Villegas
8 a.m.
Matt Bettencourt
Jason Bohn
Nathan Green
8:10 a.m.
Dean Wilson
David Duval
Jamie Lovemark
8:20 a.m.
Charles Howell III
Tim Petrovic
John Daly
8:30 a.m.
Keegan Bradley
Scott Stallings
Tony Finau
8:40 a.m.
Jhonattan Vegas
Alexandre Rocha
Hideki Matsuyama*
8:50 a.m.
Hunter Haas
Bobby Gates
Sunghoon Kang
9 a.m.
Gary Woodland
Joe Affrunti
Shunsuke Sonoda
11:40 a.m.
Billy Mayfair
Chris DiMarco
Kent Jones
11:50 a.m.
John Senden
Brandt Jobe
Tag Ridings
Noon
Boo Weekley
Tom Gillis
Chad Collins
12:10 p.m.
Tim Clark
Bo Van Pelt
K.J. Choi
12:20 p.m.
Zach Johnson
Rory Sabbatini
Robert Allenby
12:30 p.m.
Rocco Mediate
Jerry Kelly
D.J. Trahan
12:40 p.m.
Johnson Wagner
Charlie Wi
Marc Leishman
12:50 p.m.
Kevin Na
Brendon de Jonge
Fredrik Jacobson
1 p.m.
Chris Baryla
Zack Miller
Kevin Kisner
1:10 p.m.
Kevin Chappell
Fabian Gomez
David Saka*
1:20 p.m.
D.J. Brigman
Colt Knost
Michio Matsumura
1:30 p.m.
Bio Kim
William McGirt
Doug LaBelle II
*--amateur
FRIDAY
First tee
7:10 a.m.
Billy Mayfair
Chris DiMarco
Kent Jones
7:20 a.m.
John Senden
Brandt Jobe
Tag Ridings
7:30 a.m.
Boo Weekley
Tom Gillis
Chad Collins
7:40 a.m.
Tim Clark
Bo Van Pelt
K.J. Choi
7:50 a.m.
Zach Johnson
Rory Sabbatini
Robert Allenby
8 a.m.
Rocco Mediate
Jerry Kelly
D.J. Trahan
8:10 a.m.
Johnson Wagner
Charlie Wi
Marc Leishman
8:20 a.m.
Kevin Na
Brendon de Jonge
Fredrik Jacobson
8:30 a.m.
Chris Baryla
Zack Miller
Kevin Kisner
8:40 a.m.
Kevin Chappell
Fabian Gomez
David Saka*
8:50 a.m.
D.J. Brigman
Colt Knost
Michio Matsumura
9 a.m.
Bio Kim
William McGirt
Doug LaBelle II
11:40 a.m.
Steve Flesch
Joe Durant
Shane Bertsch
11:50 a.m.
Jeff Maggert
Webb Simpson
Jimmy Walker
Noon
Jesper Parnevik
Jason Dufner
Ricky Barnes
12:10 p.m.
Jonathan Byrd
Jim Furyk
Ernie Els
12:20 p.m.
Robert Garrigus
Adam Scott
Camilo Villegas
12:30 p.m.
Matt Bettencourt
Jason Bohn
Nathan Green
12:40 p.m.
Dean H. Wilson
David Duval
Jamie Lovemark
12:50 p.m.
Charles Howell III
Tim Petrovic
John Daly
1 p.m.
Keegan Bradley
Scott Stallings
Tony Finau
1:10 p.m.
Jhonattan Vegas
Alexandre Rocha
Hideki Matsuyama*
1:20 p.m.
Hunter Haas
Bobby Gates
Sunghoon Kang
1:30 p.m.
Gary Woodland
Joe Affrunti
Shunsuke Sonoda
10th tee
7:10 a.m.
Alex Cejka
Roland Thatcher
Blake Adams
7:20 a.m.
Ryuji Imada
Steve Marino
Matt Jones
7:30 a.m.
John Merrick
Michael Sim
Jeff Klauk
7:40 a.m.
Matt Kuchar
Steve Stricker
Ryan Palmer
7:50 a.m.
Jason Day
Anthony Kim
Vijay Singh
8 a.m.
Arjun Atwal
Cameron Beckman
Pat Perez
8:10 a.m.
Paul Goydos
Alex Prugh
Michael Connell
8:20 a.m.
Tim Herron
Shigeki Maruyama
Jeff Overton
8:30 a.m.
Cameron Tringale
Ben Martin
WC Liang
8:40 a.m.
Jim Herman
Brendan Steele
Koumei Oda
8:50 a.m.
Scott Gutschewski
Jarrod Lyle
Steven Bowditch
9 a.m.
Kyle Stanley
Martin Piller
Joseph Bramlett
11:40 a.m.
Aaron Baddeley
Josh Teater
Troy Merritt
11:50 a.m.
Shaun Micheel
Dave Eichelberger
Charles Warren
Noon
Chris Riley
Duffy Waldorf
Paul Stankowski
12:10 p.m.
Heath Slocum
Carl Pettersson
Brian Gay
12:20 p.m.
Stuart Appleby
Justin Rose
Justin Leonard
12:30 p.m.
Derek Lamely
Mark Wilson
Davis Love III
12:40 p.m.
Troy Matteson
Marc Turnesa
Fred Funk
12:50 p.m.
Chad Campbell
Brian Davis
Spencer Levin
1 p.m.
Tommy Gainey
Michael Thompson
Matt McQuillan
1:10 p.m.
Chris Kirk
Nate Smith
Tadahiro Takayama
1:20 p.m.
Michael Putnam
David Hearn
Peter Tomasulo
1:30 p.m.
David Mathis
Daniel Summerhays
Kevin Hayashi
*--amateur

SONY OPEN FACTS

» What: First full-field PGA Tour event of 2011
» When: Tomorrow to Sunday, starting approximately at 7 a.m. tomorrow and Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
» Where: Waialae Country Club (par 35-35--70, 7,068 yards)
» Purse: $5.5 million ($990,000 first prize)
» Defending champion: Ryan Palmer (15-under-par 265)
» Pro-am: Today, starting at 6:50 a.m.
» Tickets: $20 daily today to Sunday, or $50 for all-week badge. Children 12-under free with ticket-bearing adult. Advance tickets, $15 daily, are available at friendsofhawaii.org (service fees apply) or First Hawaiian Bank branches.
» TV (times tentative): Golf Channel, 2-5:30 p.m., tomorrow to Saturday; 2-5 p.m. Sunday; with repeats
» Parking: Free at Hunakai Park, and free at Kahala Community Park starting tomorrow, with shuttle to course





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