NORTON, Mass. (AP) — It was three years ago when Ernie Els said he had a three-year plan to return to No. 1 in the world. It’s not going so great at the moment, as the Big Easy has fallen to No. 20.
“You still remember that?” Els said with a laugh.
The 39-year-old South African said he had a few life changes that he did not anticipate, including his disclosure a year ago that his son, Ben, was dealing with autism. Els moved his family from London to West Palm Beach, Fla., to get special care for his son.
“Going public with Ben was a big deal,” Els said. “I didn’t really realize it was going to be that big a deal, and I’ve really thrown new energy into this new project that we’re busy with. We want to build a nice center for autistic kids down there, basically a school in Florida. So I think that took a bit of time. The house move from England to Florida was another pretty big move.
“I don’t want to make too many excuses, but that kind of took a bit of energy.”
Asked about Els’ three-year plan, Woods took more into account that Els was trying to recover from knee surgery in 2005.
“It takes time,” Woods said. “Ernie is not a big worker physically, and that’s one of the things that you have to do with an ACL repair, is you’ve got to really do a lot of work. I feel pretty good with what I’ve done, and I think Ernie, he could have worked a little bit harder.”
However, Woods said that’s not as easy for someone like Els, who plays more golf around the world than any other player.
“He plays all over the place,” Woods said. “Ernie is starting to put it together a little bit. We all know he’s got the talent. We’ve seen it. It’s just a matter of him getting the confidence in what he’s doing.”