x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Ernie Els has 'change for better' after modest US Open

The former world No 1 struggled for form for much of last year but says his self-belief has been restored after his tie for ninth place last week.

Ernie Els felt he had control over his game for most of the time at the US Open.
Ernie Els felt he had control over his game for most of the time at the US Open.

Former world No 1 Ernie Els struggled for form for much of last year but he says his self-belief has been restored after his tie for ninth place in the US Open last week at the Olympic Club.

"I'm contending again ... and that means a lot," Els said on his website. "I feel I have a chance now and that I could win another one of these majors. I've got my belief back."

Els, a three-time major winner from South Africa, was briefly as high as second place during Sunday's final round before closing with a two-over-par 72 in difficult scoring conditions to finish three shots behind eventual winner Webb Simpson.

"Right after finishing my final round at Olympic I was disappointed to have let slip a chance to win," Els said. "But having had a night to sleep on it I can reflect more clearly on the positive aspects of my performance. My mental attitude was good all week and I played really well on what was a very tough golf course."

Els, 42, said he will not play either of this week's events on the PGA Tour or the European Tour. .

"I want to focus on doing everything I can in the next few weeks to make sure that my game and my mindset are in great shape for the next time I tee it up," he said.

Els, whose last major victory came a decade ago at the British Open, recorded a double-bogey at the fourth hole of his opening round at the US Open, and a triple-bogey at the 16th.

"I had a couple of train wrecks out there ... and ultimately I guess they cost me the tournament," he said.

In the third round, he roared into contention with three birdies and an unexpected chip-in for eagle at the par-five 17th.

In the final round, he rolled in a curling 20-foot eagle putt on the seventh hole to move briefly into a tie for second. Bogeys on the next two holes derailed his title bid.

"When I look at where I was this time last year and where I am now it's a huge change for the better," Els said. "The whole week at Olympic Club I was a lot calmer and I felt much more in control of my game and my emotions. That's a really good sign going forwards."

Els, who won the most recent of his 18 PGA Tour titles at the 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational, had slipped to 56th in the world rankings by the end of last year.

His top-10 finish at the US Open has seen him now rise to 39th.

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