Residence: Wentworth, England
With the swing that we all try to emulate, Ernie ‘The Big Easy’ Els is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the game. He has won almost 60 professional tournaments, including 2 US Opens (1994 and 97), an Open Championship (2002), a record 7 World Matchplay titles (including 3 consecutive titles….twice) and is one of a few truly global golfers. Fiercely competitive and far more driven than his casual, easy-going exterior may suggest, Els is blessed with a wonderfully calm temperament - hence his nickname - The Big Easy.
As a youngster, he was an outstanding soccer, cricket, rugby and tennis player. At the age of 13 he won a significant regional tennis event and could well have become a world-class tennis player. Fortunately for golf he didn’t and at the age of 14 Ernie Els was Junior World Golf Champion beating a certain Phil Mickelson to the crown. In 1989 Els won the South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship and turned professional later that year. In 1992 Els matched the feat of fellow countryman Gary Player by winning the South-African Open, SA PGA and SA Masters, propelling him to stardom.
Splitting his time between the European and PGA Tour’s and enjoying regular victories on each continent, Ernie has firmly set up base inside the world’s top-10; being there for over 700 consecutive weeks (more than any other player). Ernie won the European Tour Order of Merit in 2003, 2004 and only a knee injury sustained on holiday with the family stopped from scooping the title on a third consecutive occasion.
Ernie loves wine and has his own successful vineyard which since its launch has made a big impact on both the South African and International wine markets wining many prestigious awards along the way.
Like the majority of his career, in 2008 Ernie has divided his time between the 2 major tours playing 15 times in Europe and 16 stateside. His only victory in 2008 came in the US at The Honda Classic where a final round 67 (-3) saw him jump from tied 8th at the start of the day to win by a single shot from overnight leader Luke Donald. Despite only spending half the year on the PGA Tour Ernie is still sat in 13th place on the money list, amassing over $2,500,000 in the 16 events he has played in.