Els Blog: Getting back into action
Editor’s note: Ernie Els has been writing a blog in 2017 and this is his latest installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com. Having had a few weeks off, and needing to recover from a heavy dose of flu, it was a relief to get back into the swing of tournament action at last week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. I’ve played this event in back-to-back years now and it’s a superbly run tournament. Congrats to Shriners on all that they’re doing there and indeed on the amazing work they’re doing in the Las Vegas area across various facilities helping children in need. And nice job Patrick Cantlay getting your first PGA TOUR win there! Anyway, considering I’ve not been able to play as much golf as I’d have liked in the last 3-4 weeks, there was a lot about my game that pleased me at TPC Summerlin. I hit a lot of greens out there, especially across the first three days, and I could have easily shot better scores than I did. Admittedly a bit of a disappointing final round, but never mind. I’m just looking forward to trying to build on some of that good play in this week’s OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico. We’re back at El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa Del Carmen, roughly 40 minutes south of Cancun on Mexico’s stunning Yucatan Peninsula. Last year was my first ever visit to this part of the world and it really is beautiful. So, too, is the golf course, a Greg Norman layout that winds its way through three distinct landscapes - tropical jungle, dense mangroves and sand-lined oceanfront. It was a joy to play there last year and I’m excited to be returning this week. Before that, I just want to recap on some events off the golf course from the last few weeks. First of all, a huge thank you to our family of golfers, donors, sponsors and partners who made this year’s Golf Challenge and last week’s Grand Finale another big success. There is a long list of people and organizations who make this all possible and, in particular, I’d like to take this opportunity to make special mention of our long-time presenting sponsor, SAP, and organizing sponsors RBC, TaylorMade and Wine Spectator. Also our platinum sponsors - EY and Boeing - and our gold sponsors Downsview Kitchens, 18Birdies, Boeing, Duane Morris, Tierra South Florida, EY, eBay and Tata Consulting Services. Thank you all so much. Special congratulations from Liezl and me to Rachel Barcellona, winner of the 2017 Els for Autism Spectrum Award, and to Tanner’s Team Too! who were the year’s highest fundraising team with more than $50,000 on the board, an incredible effort. Honestly, it was a pleasure for me to spend time with you and everyone who earned their place at this year’s Grand Finale. This was the seventh year of the Golf Challenge and we had a new venue for this year’s Grand Finale and I want to thank the whole team at The Breakers in Florida for the great job hosting us. In the seven years that we’ve been running the Golf Challenge our fundraising total has now topped the $18 million mark. It’s truly humbling to have got to this stage and obviously, the results of our fundraising efforts are evident every day in the wonderful work being done at The Els Center of Excellence. We’ll start the ball rolling on our eighth Golf Challenge in 2018 and we look forward to welcoming back old friends and hopefully some new participants, too. Meanwhile, over in South Africa our final three events on the Drive to SA Open series took place in recent weeks. At St. Francis Links on 5 October our generous custodians Jeff and Liesel Clause once again produced an amazing day, while Mother Nature provided the weather to match! Thank you to the Irish three-ball of Roy Picken, Robert McKormick and Bertie Warwick who kindly donated a prize auction item signed by Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke. Congrats to the day’s winners, Frank Crabstick and Alan Carstens. Next up was Silver Lakes on 20 October and I hear we had great weather there as well. This course is the home of my old friend, and Drive to SA Open organizer, Nico van Rensburg, and the team there did us proud. A total of 128 players took part, including cricketers Mark Boucher and Dean Elgar, and rugby player Chester Williams. The winners on the day were Alastair MacDonald and Dean Asset. Big thanks to Sun International for getting involved as a sponsor on the day. Last but not least, the flagship event of our 2017 schedule took place at Ebotse on 26 October. Nico tells me the course was again in superb condition. Big thanks to Peps Pretorius for all the work he does to make this such a special day, this year raising an incredible R413 000 and concluding with a prize shoot-out from the top deck of the clubhouse. As always, I send my thanks to everyone who took part, including Lions coach Swys De Bruin. Lastly thanks again to Sun International and to Imperial KWS logistics for getting on board for the 2018 series. We really appreciate your support. Okay, that’s it for now. Follow me on Twitter @TheBig_Easy.
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