ST. ANDREWS, Scotland(AP) Ernie Els has come so close to winning the Dunhill Links Championship so often that he feels it’s about time he pulls it off.
To do it this week on three great Scottish links courses, the South African will need to get his confidence back.
“I’m working on that at the moment,” Els said Wednesday.
He’s finished second twice at the Dunhill Links Championship, and finished in the top 10 three other times in the past seven years.
Ten members of Europe’s Ryder Cup team – minus Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter – are in the 172-man field at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie are also in the field.
“I’d crawl over to this tournament,” said Padraig Harrington, the British Open and PGA Championship champion.
Harrington said he is fighting fatigue as he pursues a third title after victories in 2002 and 2006.
Harrington has won three major titles, the same as Els, who won the last at the 2002 British Open following victories at the 1994 and ’97 U.S. Open.
“I know what he’s going through,” Els said of Harrington. “He just wants to go home and reflect on what he’s done. He wants to sit back and watch the video and really take it in, because since the Open he has had to play the world championship events, then the PGA, the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup.”
Els said he’s getting tired of finishing second at Dunhill.
“I’ve had chances,” Els said. “Paul Lawrie made a huge putt against me one year and Lee Westwood beat me down the stretch in 2003. Then last year I putted into a bunker at the 15th on the last day.
“Yeah, obviously I would like to win here, like everyone.”
Now down to No. 8 in the rankings, Els hasn’t been satisfied with his year so far.
“I had a very bad Masters and missed the cut. Then I actually had a very good U.S. Open until the 15th hole on the final day. I made a triple there,” he said. “I felt that was my best chance to win a major because I hit the ball as well as I have all year. But I was clueless on the greens.”
One of the Ryder Cup players, Justin Rose, was second to Nick Dougherty last year on his way to winning the Volvo Masters and the Order of Merit.
Rose said he is still trying to digest the Ryder Cup disappointment, even though he won three out of four points against the Americans.
“A team victory is the whole goal and it’s a hollow victory when you play well yourself and the team loses,” Rose said. “But I made sacrifices to play in it and they were worthwhile because it was an amazing experience and a great atmosphere to play in.”