Date: May 30, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Els: Put the W back in WGC

Legendary Ernie Els said he’d keep “hammering the nail” with the game’s powerbrokers to have the World Golf Championships live up to their name.

As the South African prepares for two upcoming major championships before continuing his jet-setting ways in making a debut appearance on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia’s Fiji International in August, he said he would continue to ask those in charge at the US PGA Tour to keep other parts of the world in mind for important tournaments.

Four-time major champion Els, recently announced the International team’s captain for next year’s Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne, was asked whether the game’s next tier of tournaments should live up to their original charter and be played globally.

“Absolutely. The discussion has been with the tour for a long time to move these world championship events around the world, the way the name suggests,” Els said.

“It’s a World Golf Championship. The Australian PGA is involved, South Africa is involved, the whole world is involved with this event, but it seems like they don’t quite get to play internationally except for the one in China.

“That would be another debate going into the future. I don’t know how much weight I can bring to the table as a Presidents Cup captain, but I would surely keep hammering the nail, so to speak.

“I feel these events are special events and the world is being starved (of them).

“The world players are playing these events, but these events keep on being held in or close to the US, so it would be unbelievable if one of those events could go down to Australia or South Africa or South America for that matter, I’m with you on that one.”

The matter of concentration of the world’s premier men’s events in North America was brought to a head again recently with plenty of talk from the United States about The Players Championship potentially being considered the “fifth major”.

As it stands, three of the four WGC events are held in North America, along with three of the four major championships. The fourth WGC event is contracted to be played in China.

Els will make it a family affair when he travels to Fiji for the first time to play in the tournament tri-sanctioned by the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, European Tour and Asian Tour.

“I’ve never been to Fiji so when I was contacted to see if I’d like to play I thought why not,” Els said.

“I’m really looking forward to it; I’m taking my daughter and my wife so we’re all really looking forward to the trip.”

Els said he would research the Vijay Singh-designed Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course before teeing it up.

“I’ll do some homework on the course in Fiji, Vijay has played there and Brandt Snedeker has played there, I did watch a little bit one year when the wind was blowing unbelievably,” he said. 

“Hopefully the wind stays away a little bit, but I’ll find some information on it before I get there and go through the course.”