Ernie Els: “It’s got to be Muirfield. To me, it’s the fairest of all the courses on the Open rotation, with everything right there in front of you. It’s the kind of golf course where you can’t hide -- you have to drive it well, hit your irons well, have your short game working nicely and manage your game and your emotions. It reminds me a bit of Lytham. But where Lytham goes out and comes back, Muirfield moves in different directions on almost every shot you play. It’s just a wonderful design. The par-3s are unbelievable. Each and every hole is a little bit different. There’s left to rights, right to lefts, it all happens out there. It is the perfect links test."
Pictured: The par-4 8th hole at Muirfield.
This year’s recipient of the Payne Stewart Award is South African Ernie Els.
Els is the 18th player to win the award, which is given annually to the pro who best demonstrates sportsmanship, character and charity, three traits Stewart was known for. Els received the award Tuesday night on-site at the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta, Georgia.
“To be considered worthy of receiving such an award makes me feel proud and very humble,” Els said. “It really means a lot. Of course, the work that we do is a massive team effort, and I thank my wife Liezl and everyone at the foundation for their work and commitment.”
Els’ charity work is focused mainly within his Els for Autism foundation, which he and his wife started back in 2009. Els spoke with the Golf Channel after receiving the award.