Els eyes Green Jacket after masterful 67

Fri 10 Apr 2015

Els eyes Green Jacket after masterful 67

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Augusta, Georgia, April 9: Ernie Els has always longed for a coveted Green Jacket. An opening round of five-under-par 67 on day one of the Masters Tournament on Thursday could yet see the Big Easy live up his dream.
The 45-year-old four-time Major winner, who is an Asian Tour honorary member and international ambassador, produced an eye-catching start in the year’s first Major to lie three shots off the lead.
Appearing in his 21st Masters Tournament, Els, who has been heartbroken on several occasions in Augusta National where he has two second place finishes, nailed five birdies and an eagle on his card.
The leader, young Jordan Spieth, is nearly half of Els’ age and the South African star knows that the new generation of golfers will soon make it harder for players like himself to win Major honours.
"These guys are good. I've got a lot of talent but you've got to get the most out of it now, we're running out of time. But I'll be up for it,” said Els.
He has had more heartaches than heartwarming stories at Augusta National. In 2004, he was getting ready for a possible play-off but Phil Mickelson produced an 18-foot birdie on the 72nd hole to win by one.
He has missed the cut four of the next 10 years, failed to qualify in 2012 and managed to crack the top 15 only once.
"I was trying to wipe (2004) under the carpet that I wanted this one so badly for so many years; definitely, there was something going on," said Els. "Kind of, you get fed up with yourself.
"I felt that I left shots out there in that span, that five-, six-year span. So a little frustration set in there.”
He is also hoping to live up to former Masters champion Ben Crenshaw’s prediction made over 20 years ago.
"I remember vividly my first Masters, '94, like I played it yesterday," said Els.
"I played with Ben Crenshaw. In the second round I shot 66 and he was so gracious, so nice, and said, 'You know, you're going to win this tournament if you keep putting like that.'
"I finished eighth and really thought it was on. But it didn't quite happen.
Els has won twice each at the US Open and British Open and knows that a Masters Green Jacket would sit nicely in his wardrobe at home.
The tailors at Augusta National could be wise to start taking Els’ jacket measurement.
Ends