Els Blog: Thoughts with victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Tue 03 Dec 2013

Els Blog: Thoughts with victims of Typhoon Haiyan

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By Ernie Els
Golf these days is a global game and we’re all part of one big family, so my latest blog could only begin with a thought and a prayer sent to those caught up in the terrible effects of Typhoon Haiyan, which passed through central and southern Philippines last month.
Living in Florida we’re used to the hurricane season and the power of Mother Nature, but this was on an altogether different level. Tragedy on such an epic scale touches millions of lives. Fellow tour pro Jason Day lost several members of his family and no doubt many of our friends on the Asian Tour will have suffered similar losses and devastation.
Of course, such events often bring out the best in human nature and people all around the world will stand up and do their bit, big or small, to help the cause. I noticed at the Resorts World Manila Masters, the players wore a Red Cross pin as a pledge of their commitment towards relief efforts and also observed a minute’s silence to show their respect for the victims, which was touching to observe.
The fact that the tournament went ahead at all was massively impressive and showed the world that the Filipinos are survivors and that they’ll quickly bounce back.
Perhaps seeing these events unfold on television had more poignancy for me as we’d just returned from three wonderful weeks in Asia. As usual, everywhere we went the people could not have been more friendly and welcoming. It’s always a pleasure to be able to travel to this part of the world and definitely counts as one of the perks of my job.
We started in the Venetian Macau Open, where Gaganjeet Bhullar was the defending champion – it’s easy to like the look of his game and I see he won again last week. We’d travelled from Las Vegas to arrive on Wednesday, so my mind and body took a while to get into the right time zone.
That might have explained the slow start in the first round, but after that the game was pretty sharp. Being in the thick of it going into the weekend, you want to push on and win the tournament so in that sense it was a frustrating couple of days. But Scott Hend was very strong; he deserved to win.
We then played the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur. I’ve always said that as a top player you have a responsibility to promote the game globally, which is why I applaud the decision to make this year’s CIMB Classic an official PGA Tour event – the first ever played outside the US – because it increases the tournament’s competitiveness and encourages more of the top players to come. You can’t underestimate how positive that is for the growth of the game. Also it’s good that tournaments such as this give Asian Tour members the potential to win their way on to the PGA Tour, and into the field at the Masters. That’s got to be good news for Asian golf generally.
Then the final leg of my three-week stretch was the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. I’ve enjoyed some low scores and high finishes in this event and this one could have been right up there, too. The frustrating thing was not making much on the greens the first three days, but the putter came alive on Sunday and that gave me some satisfaction. In the end, rounds of 69, 69, 71 and a 66 on Sunday left me at 13-under par and tied-11th.
In between playing these three tournaments we managed to fit in a couple of important golf course site visits with the team at Ernie Els Design. First stop was The Els Club Teluk Datai, due to open in spring 2014. We thought long and hard about the location of our first Els Club in Asia and in Destination Resorts & Hotels we have found great partners to help create a very special golf course that we feel will have worldwide appeal.
The site for The Els Club Teluk Datai is certainly one of the most unique I have come across anywhere in my travels around the world. Located amongst some of Malaysia’s most spectacular landscape, the course is nestled within a centuries-old rainforest, as well as flanking the shores of the Andaman Sea, offering a rich sensory experience for golfers. I can’t wait to come back and play the course for myself.
Another exciting project for us is located on the Desaru Coast where we’re in the construction phase for a wonderful 27-hole layout that will form one of the main attractions at this new beachfront destination on the west coast of Johor. We’re not quite so far along here as we are at Teluk Datai, but we’re right on track, everything is looking good and we anticipate that the course will be open for play in the latter half of 2015.
I’ll write again soon in the New Year.