Could being on the wagon have been a factor in Ernie Els's British Open win? David Facey of The Sun gives fascinating insight on the new Ernie from his caddie, Ricci Roberts:
“We were having dinner one night a couple of months ago when Ernie suddenly announced: ‘I’m not going to bother having a glass of wine tonight.’
“He said: ‘In fact I may not have a drink for a while — even if I never have another party night for the rest of my life, I still think I’ll be well ahead of the game.’
“And I haven’t seen him touch a drop since.
“Even when he was handed a glass of champagne after he won the Open, I didn’t see him take a single sip.
“I know he said he wants to meet Nelson Mandela again to share a drink from the claret jug, but there’s a good chance it might be filled with Diet Coke!
“I’m not saying the big man has gone soft — just that he’s become a little more sensible than the rest of us."
Coach Claude Harmon had this to say about Els's revived dedication to the game:
“No one seems to appreciate how hard Ernie has been working.
“When you consider he has a private jet — or will have again soon — all the money he could need, a son with autism and a family he adores, it would be easy to for him to walk away into the sunset.
“But the drive and the desire are as great as ever.
“He took a lot of encouragement from playing himself into contention at last month’s US Open, and that put him in great heart for Lytham. This won’t be Ernie’s last Major win, I’m sure of that.”