Els Grateful For Castle Stuart's Width

Nice little zinger from Ernie Els to Graeme McDowell about the supposed ease of Scottish Open host Castle Stuart, as reported by Alex Miceli.

“Been to Muirfield a couple of times now so I kind of know what I need to do,” Els said Wednesday in a press conference before the pro-am. “I’m trying out two new drivers from Callaway and thank goodness, according to Graeme (McDowell), we have a lot of width in the fairways.”

Ernie On Muirfield: “There is rough, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think it’s unfair."

Comments were attributed to Ernie Els on Wednesday about Muirfield but he hadn't played the course until Thursday, telling PGATour.com's Sean Martin that setup looks good to him. And at 25-1 as the last man to win at Muirfield, that's good news to punters.

“I love the course,” Els told PGATOUR.COM on Friday. “I think it’s set up very similar to 1992 and 2002. The rough is good, the fairways are good, some of the holes have been lengthened.”

Richest Event In World Is Not Rich Enough Apparently

The inaugural non-WGC Tournament of Hope in South Africa has been "postponed" due to "economic climate."

For Immediate Friday News Dump Release:

February 1, 2013 - The International Federation of PGA Tours and the Sunshine Tour announced today that the Tournament of Hope, scheduled for the week of November 18, 2013, has been postponed.

The Tournament of Hope is an event to be contested in South Africa with a primary eligibility category of the top 50 players in the world, supplemented by the individual money lists and Orders of Merit of the various Tours that make up the International Federation of PGA Tours.  The Tournament of Hope is also to be the centerpiece of a proposed worldwide AIDS awareness effort, to be coordinated by the Sunshine Tour.

“We are confident that the initial enthusiasm for the Tournament of Hope remains in South Africa and among other potential international sponsors,” said Selwyn Nathan, executive director of the Sunshine Tour, speaking on behalf of the Sunshine Tour and the International Federation of PGA Tours.  “We are hopeful that, with an improvement in the economic climate, we will be able to conclude all arrangements for a successful staging of the Tournament of Hope at a future date.”

Further announcements concerning the Tournament of Hope will be made periodically.

The entire thing was a bit complicated from day one and up until last February when its status was finally decided.

It all started with a Presidents Cup scheduling brouhaha when the European Tour scheduled the 2011 South African Open the week of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Ernie Paying A Compliment: "The R&A want to have the same kind of scores winning today as you did back in the 1920s."

Martin Dempster talks to Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen about R&A Chief Inspector Architect Dawson's changes to the Old Course.

Louis, the last man to win the Open at St. Andrews, not surprisingly had no idea what Dempster was asking about. Els, the 2012 Open Champion, tried to defend the changes but in doing so unknowingly offered the worst indictment possible.

“Most of the courses we’ve played in the past ten or so years have changed, including Troon, Royal Liverpool and Sandwich. In fact, they’re making changes to all of the courses on the rota in a bid to make the challenge as tough as possible.”

A course designer himself, Els added: “The only thing that bothers me a bit about it is that, when the wind changes direction sometimes on these courses, it can be tough to get to the fairway from some of these new tees.

Quibble, quibble! These pros today are so spoiled. Go on...

“But I think these courses do need to change. The R&A want to have the same kind of scores winning today as you did back in the 1920s."

Psssst....Ernie, that's about the most cynical, small-minded thing a governing body charged with ensuring skill is rewarded can end up doing! Especially one constantly touting their lack of concern for winning scores far under par.

Ernie And Adam's Buddies Trips: "We could write books on the stuff we did."

I'll be curious to read the entire Tom Callahan piece on Ernie Els in the November Golf Digest, but the snippet released today would seem to suggest that Els is inching ever so close to admitting an addiction that he has been able to shake.

"Excessive drinking is not good for my health, my family or my game. There has definitely been a change, and I feel better for it. The boys from the club will say, 'Come over Friday and we'll have a couple of beers.' 'No thanks; I feel too good. I want to go practice. I want to be with my kids.' If I don't have one more party for the rest of my life, I'm still ahead of the game."

"Adam Scott traveled with me around the world. We could write books on the stuff we did. But fun stuff. I'm not talking about seedy crap. Just fun, almost like boy stuff."

I think it's time to bring back the Buddies Issue and share the details of boyish but not seedy drunken escapades!

Els On Going It Alone, Giving Up Drinking

Good read from Doug Ferguson on Ernie Els after winning the Open and some of the sacrifices/changes he made leading up to the victory that might have made a difference, starting with going solo during Open week.

His family stayed in Skibo Castle during the Scottish Open, and then Els sent them home. He knew deep down he was getting close, especially after his tie for ninth in the U.S. Open. He wanted to treat the British Open like a work week, as it was when he was just starting his career. He went to the golf course and worked. He went to the hotel to sleep. It was all business.

''Tony Jacklin stayed in that hotel when he won in 1969 - I was born in 1969,'' Els said, grinning at the coincidence.

And this about giving up drinking.

One night at dinner about a month before the Open, he decided to stop drinking. Els doesn't remember the night, and when pressed for the motive behind it, he waved his hand and said, ''Accch,'' a guttural sound in Afrikaans to suggest it was no big deal or not worth discussing.

''I just didn't feel like anymore,'' he said. ''I'm probably going to give it another three months now. I feel really into what I'm doing.''

The First Nagging Question From the '12 Open: Will This Win Eventually Have An Asterisk Next To It?

I don't want to rain on Ernie's parade, but this was a question brought up by my colleague John Huggan when we thought Adam Scott would win and make it three of the last four majors claimed by a player anchoring a putter against their torso.

A major is a major, and I would contend Barry Bonds was facing fellow steroid users when there was no drug testing, so no asterisk. And Ernie has won the Open along with two U.S. Opens with a traditional stroke, so his credentials are hardly suspect.

Still, with all the talk of a rule change, a career resurrected admittedly by an act of "cheating" in Ernie's view and the increasing likelihood that we may see something happen by 2016, will this and other recent wins be viewed differently by history because the winners used a non-stroke stroke?

"Els barrelled through the field like a freight train"

Oliver Brown on Ernie Els' stunning comeback both Sunday and from career struggles to win the 2012 Open Championship at Lytham and St. Annes, with a nice recap of everything Els has done to stay relevant.

Els barrelled through the field like a freight train, scattering his rivals by virtue of his brilliance under pressure and of his own superior aesthetics. Could it really have been a decade since he last hoisted the Claret Jug at Troon? It rarely seemed like it as the 42 year-old carved out a serene path to victory, exhibiting the type of sedated state associated more with the seaside donkeys that ply this section of Blackpool coast.

But no one expected this. Not even his most fervent disciples could have dared argue that he had still had it within him to win an Open from five shots back on Sunday, but perhaps they should have consulted the man himself. Els had forecast before this tournament began that “something special” could happen, and he elicited nothing more than gentle amusement among commentators.

His post round interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi: