Els Blog: Looking forward to Macau

Fri 11 Oct 2013

Els Blog: Looking forward to Macau

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By Ernie Els
Having proudly accepted honorary membership of the Asian Tour earlier this year and also a role as an international ambassador, it’s a pleasure for me to be able to start this new series of bi-monthly blogs for www.asiantour.com.
In my first, it’s a case of looking back and forward. Back to the Presidents Cup in Ohio earlier this month and forward to my appearance in the upcoming Venetian Macau Open next week. That’s two very contrasting weeks in very different parts of the world, but that’s one of the things I love about this game.
Of course, I would have loved the Presidents Cup even more had we managed to pull-off a much-needed win. The Internationals were the underdogs and we knew it would be tough.
Home-course and home-crowd advantage does make a difference and obviously they had a strong team made up of eight of the world’s top-15 players, whereas we had just one in Scotty (Adam Scott).
We were 100 per cent up for it, though, and we put our heart and souls into the challenge. The Monday of that week was actually the first time we’d all got together in one room, but the team spirit was amazing. For me it was a pleasure to be on the team with these guys.
The quality of the golf was truly outstanding. In fact, in all my eight appearances in this competition, I would say the level of play this year and the number of birdies made on both teams was probably the best we’ve seen. All credit to the Americans. They played exceptionally well. Their level of play was really up there from the get-go and they made a ton of birdies. It seemed they were able to seize the momentum in most of the sessions and we were always trying to fight ourselves back into it.
And hats off to the greenkeeping staff at Muirfield Village. We had heavy rainfall all week, the wettest first week of October they’ve had in Ohio for 20 years so we’re told, and the team did an amazing job keeping the course playable. The weather made it tough for the captains and players as well, with all the delays and early starts. Warming up and hitting balls under floodlights – before the sun was even up – was an unusual experience!
Looking into the future of this competition, the impartial golf fan would probably support the view that subtle changes to the format might be necessary. Our team doesn’t have the depth the American team has and the impact of that is significant. Basically, the more points we play for, the worse off we are. Perhaps there’s an argument for adopting a system more like the Ryder Cup where they play for 28 points rather than 34, which is what we do now. In other words, let a few guys sit it out in each session for the first couple of days. Every sport has a subs bench, which is in effect what you get in the Ryder Cup, so why not the Presidents Cup? We’ll see.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in Malaysia next year. I’ve spoken to a few of the guys who would be eligible to play on the team and they’re excited about it.
There’s no doubt it’ll good for the Asian Tour and Asian golf in general. Personally, I can only see the game going from strength to strength. Just in the region of Southeast Asia where we’re designing a few new courses, you can see the interest in golf is really growing and more people are excited about the game.
Anyway, for me there is still much to look forward to in 2013, including of course the Venetian Macau Open. This is one of the most prestigious events on the Asian Tour and it’s really evolved these past 16 years into one of the city’s premier sporting events.
My goal is obviously to try to hold aloft that lovely trophy come Sunday, but whatever happens it’s bound to be an interesting and enjoyable week both on and off the golf course.
I’ve travelled so much these last 20 or so years that it’s unusual for me to have a new place to visit, so that’s exciting. I’ve heard many good things about the city and in all my many trips to Asia over the years I’ve always been struck by the wonderful hospitality and warmth of the people.
Ends