In the last year, Ernie Els has struggled to overcome the yips, his difficulties with putting playing out as cameras rolled and fans cringed.
But this week at the Dubai Desert Classic, Els seemed to be back on firm ground, shooting 68-67 in the opening rounds of a competition that he’s won three times. He’s now just one shot off the lead. Els told the Golf Channel that he had changed his grip, giving his “jittery” right hand less of a chance to unsettle his club.
He also talked about the “deep, dark” place that the yips had catapulted him into. He was dreading the greens and finding little enjoyment in the game. He wondered if he should keep playing.
“You saw some of those putts, that’s just end-of-career stuff,” Els said to media at the tournament. “I just want to enjoy it again. That’s what I said to my wife: I just want to enjoy it. I don’t care if I never win again. I need to enjoy it, otherwise might as well do something else.”
Thankfully for Ernie, things are looking up. “I’m falling in love on the greens again…I feel very different. I feel like, you know, I don’t mind making a 2-footer or a 4-footer.”