At age 40, a healthy Ernie Els feels his form returning -- and his best might be yet to come

At age 40, a healthy Ernie Els feels his form returning — and his best might be yet to come

Ernie Els has three-career major championships.
Angus Murray

What's your take on golf in the Olympics?

I think it's great. I think it's about time. I think the Olympics needs it almost more than we do, because we're a pretty clean sport. And where our sport is compared to other sports, we're pretty high up there. So it's good for both sides, I would think.

Will you play, if you qualify?

Yeah, if I make the team, definitely. It'll be a little difficult with the time. I guess it'll be in June or July, and that's near the majors, but yeah, I'll play.

Tiger's closing in on Jack's record for major wins. Is it a done deal?

No. What's he need, 18? Listen, nothing's done, but he's definitely three-quarters there and homing in. I think he's ahead of where Nicklaus was at the same age, isn't he? I'm not going to say it's a done deal, but he's homing in.

Is the FedEx Cup a big deal to you, or did this thing never really catch on?

As a world player it means a bit now, because I always feel like if I've made it to the top 30 by the end of the year, I've had a good season. That's still a goal of mine, to get there, but I wouldn't say it's the end-all of everything. For me personally, it hasn't really done the whole business, no.

When was the last time you felt this happy, this upbeat, about the way you've been playing over both the short- and long-term? It's been a pretty good run for you going back to the last two majors.

It's been a while. I think I hit my low point at the U.S. Open. I haven't felt very positive about my game for a long time, and I would say that going to England and getting ready for the British Open helped me a little bit, gave me new motivation.

You've talked about your mental attitude. How important is that, and has that been a problem for you?

Yeah. I think in any sport you play at a high level, you've got to have everything there as I mentioned. I think your game has got to be at a good level, and your mental attitude. You've got to feel like you have a chance to win and be seeing good shots out there. That keeps you moving in the right direction. I don't think I was there for a long time. It's a lot better than it was.

You have a special arrangement with your agent. How did that come about?

After I left IMG, I went with ISM, with Chubby [Chandler]. I played golf with him in South Africa when he was still a pro, back in 1989. I've always had a good relationship with Chubby. He's a little bit like IMG, he's got a lot of clients, but we sat down and did a deal where I pay him differently than his other clients. It's a good deal, and he's done very well for me. You know, when you work hard for me, I'll work hard for you. Anybody will tell you that. I've got views, and I've got where I want to go. F— it. That's the way it is. If you don't like it, you don't have to like it. I've been around too long not to get the right story. I think Chubby plays the right game with me.

You turned 40 in October. Is that something that makes you sit back and think, 'Where have all the years gone?'

Yeah, I've been out here a very long time. The younger you are when you get out here and the longer you stay, the years tick by quickly. All of a sudden you're 40 and I've been out here almost 20 years, on the European Tour and over here. A lot of great memories and a lot of changes I've seen through the years, in equipment and golf courses. I can write a book one day, I'm sure.

—ASAP Sports contributed to this interview

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