Els blog: The Open review

Tue 25 Jul 2017

Els blog: The Open review

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Sentosa, Singapore, July 25: Asian Tour honorary member and international ambassador Ernie Els shares his latest blog with asiantour.com.
By Ernie Els
This year’s Open Championship was a special week of golf, with players of eight different nationalities finishing inside the top-10 on the leaderboard.
And there were some really incredible story lines. Obviously, huge congrats to Jordan Spieth who won his first Open and the third leg of the career Grand Slam at the age of just 23, the second youngest golfer to do that after Jack Nicklaus. A word also for Matt Kuchar, who played a great round of golf. I watched the back nine on television and I thought Matt and Jordan played the game in exactly the right spirit and showed great sportsmanship. It was a wonderful advert for the game of golf.
Ernie Els and Li Haotong in the final round of The Open. Ernie Els and Li Haotong in the final round of The Open.
Congrats also to my friend and fellow SAP ambassador Branden Grace, a former member of the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, who produced the round of his life on Saturday to become the first man to shoot 62 in a Major Championship. That’s a nice little chapter in the history books that Branden can call his own.
For me, the week started with a 2-under par 68 on a sunny, breezy Thursday afternoon. I felt comfortable out there, hit a lot of good shots and rolled the ball nicely on the greens. It could have been a few shots better, actually. The next day, severe weather blew across Royal Birkdale and it was one of those days you get at an Open where it’s all about survival. You just try to limit your bad holes to bogeys and grab the few birdie opportunities that come your way. We managed the first part okay, but not the second. Still, anything under 75 was a decent score, so shooting 73 didn’t hurt me too much.
Where we lost ground was on Saturday. The conditions were very benign, but I just didn’t give myself enough looks at birdie. It was the same again on Sunday. There was a lot of good golf in there, though. Also, being an ambassador for the Asian Tour, it was a pleasure for me to play both rounds on the weekend with two fine young players of Asian descent, Chan Kim and Li Haotong. I believe we’ll be seeing a lot of both of these golfers in years to come. Let me tell you, Li Haotong’s round of 63 on Sunday was absolutely fearless. It was one shot more than Branden’s 62 the previous day, but I’d say it was just as good a round. He had a nice attitude. You could see he was not backing off and, even when the wind started picking up, he did everything right. All in all, very impressive.
And it was wonderful to be out there playing in front of what was a record crowd for an Open not held at St Andrews. The fans here were incredible and, as I’ve said before, we players really appreciate the support. Also, hats off to the R&A and to the whole team at Royal Birkdale. The way this Championship is run just gets better and better and the guys did an incredible job on the set-up of the golf course. It was perfect.
Okay, moving on. We took a flight out of London on Monday morning and headed straight to Canada for this week’s RBC Canadian Open. I’m proud to be one of RBC’s golfing ambassadors and we have a couple of sponsors’ engagements at the start of the week. That’s always a bit of fun.
This will be my seventh straight appearance in this tournament and you can’t help but enjoy the enthusiasm and the sense of national pride that the fans have for it. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s actually only my third visit to Glen Abbey, although this beautiful course is hosting the RBC Canadian Open for the 29th time, so the guys know what they're doing here! I’m sure we’re all in for a great week.
On a separate note, I want to mention the energy and commitment that RBC has put into golf and to charitable fundraising over the years, $50 million and counting, in fact. And we’re blessed that The Els for Autism Foundation has been one of the causes to benefit. Thank you RBC for your continued support.
That’s it for now. Follow me on Twitter @TheBig_Easy.