"Els blog: Golf, Charity and Rugby"

Thu 22 Oct 2015

"Els blog: Golf, Charity and Rugby"

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October 22: Asian Tour Honorary Member and International Ambassador Ernie Els reflects on his outing at the Venetian Macao Open and talks about his new golf academy in Vietnam. Read more from his latest blog exclusively for www.asiantour.com.
By Ernie Els
Before we talk golf, congrats to the Springboks on their Rugby World Cup quarter-final win against Wales. We sat up late into the night in Macao to watch the game, which was a little stressful at times! The guys stayed strong, though, and they kept their composure in the closing stages of an incredibly intense contest; that’s often the deciding factor in all sports.
As you’ll know, my participation in the Venetian Macao Open had been cut short on Friday, but hats off to Scott Hend on a well-deserved win. His record in this event is outstanding - two wins and a runner-up spot in three years - so he obviously loves this golf course. I must say I do, too, and it was wonderful to be back at this amazing resort and city. My game felt good coming in, especially after some nice play in Scotland, but I left myself too much to do after a poor first round 74. I hate missing cuts, but let me take this opportunity to say thank you again to the sponsors, the fans and my friends at the Asian Tour for the warm hospitality. In my career I’ve been blessed to travel and play in so many countries right across Asia, each with their own unique culture and spirit, and it makes me proud to represent the Asian Tour as an international ambassador.
Next up, we travelled from Macao to Vietnam for a site visit on Tuesday to our first ever Els Performance Golf Academy (EPGA), a really exciting new facility located at EcoPark. Vietnam is one of golf’s most vibrant markets right now and we are proud to have forged a new partnership here. Sincere thanks to Chairman Ha and the team at Ecopark for a wonderful day; it was a lot of fun and I can already see that we’re going to make a lot of great new friends here.
To give you a little more background on the broader picture, Ecopark is on the outskirts of the city of Hanoi and comprises a residential component, strategic commercial districts and an educational hub from primary level all the way to international higher-education standard. This EPGA sits within the Ecopark framework and will become the foremost golf academy in the region. It’s about giving golfers the opportunity to work on their games in an inspiring environment with access to the very best facilities and great coaching, somewhere they can improve their golf and also have a bit of fun with friends and family. It’s also about giving juniors from local schools access to a golf program unique to the region. If we can help get golf into schools and encourage more youngsters to take up the game, that would be the ultimate. Maybe we’ll discover the next Asian men’s Major winner, to follow in the footsteps of YE Yang!
The rest of this week we have a few corporate engagements, before travelling to Kuala Lumpur to start my 2015/16 PGA TOUR campaign in the CIMB Classic. I’m looking forward to my run of tournaments through to the end of the year. We’ve decided to not play too much golf over the next 10 weeks, as it’s important I’m feeling really fresh, mentally and physically, for the start of next season when I believe good things will happen.
Off the golf course this has been an unbelievably good year. We opened the first two buildings at The Els Center of Excellence in Florida, while in South Africa the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation is thriving. At Ernie Els Design one of our projects, The Els Club Teluk Datai, was voted ‘best new golf course in the world’. Receiving the Payne Stewart Award last month was also something very special. So there’s been a lot going on. Over the next few months it’s all about focusing on the tournaments that we have left to play and then, as I said, being 100 per cent ready to push on and make a fast start to the New Year.
Okay, that’s just about it for now. Just one final reminder of SAP’s charitable initiative, the One4 Project, which we announced in last week’s report. SAP has joined forces with Imagine Dragons, who have released a song ‘I Was Me’ with proceeds going to the UN international relief fund to assist with the ongoing refugee crisis. SAP is also donating USD 10 cents for every download up to the first 5 million downloads from iTunes. It’s a wonderful campaign and one that deserves widespread support.
Follow me on Twitter @TheBig_Easy.