Born: October 17, 1969
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Weight: 210 lbs.
Turned Pro: 1989
Before his career is over Ernie Els will be remembered as the ultimate international golfer. He has followed closely in Gary Player's revered footsteps by playing regularly on the PGA Tour and nearly everywhere else in the world.
Ernie began playing golf at the age of 9 and by the time he was 14 he had turned his full attention to the game. By the age of 20 Ernie had already played in his first British Open and turned pro. Ernie struggled early on playing on the Nationwide Tour (then known as the Hogan Tour) and the European Tour. His breakout came in 1992 though when Els won six professional events. He managed another in 1993 and in 1994 won the U.S. Open as a PGA Tour rookie.
Since then Els has been victorious at another U.S. Open as well as a British Open and about 40 other tournaments worldwide. In the last two seasons he has finished 9th and 2nd on the PGA Tour money list and both times won the European Tour Order of Merit. In 2004 he won five times worldwide.
At the age of 34 Els appears to have matured into the complete player. His effortless swing is incredibly powerful yet around the greens his feel is amazing. After contending in all four majors in 2004 Ernie could finally be ready to move himself into number one in the world – if he can find a way to stop Vijay.
PGA TOUR Victories
(15) 1994 U.S. Open Championship. 1995 GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic. 1996 Buick Classic. 1997 U.S. Open Championship, Buick Classic. 1998 Bay Hill Invitational. 1999 Nissan Open. 2000 The International Presented by Qwest. 2002 Genuity Championship, British Open Championship. 2003 Mercedes Championships, Sony Open in Hawaii. 2004 Sony Open in Hawaii, the Memorial Tournament, WGC-American Express Championship.
(40): 1991 Amatola Classic [SAf]. 1992 Protea Assurance South Africa Open [SAf], Lexington PGA Championship [SAf], South African Masters [SAf], Hollard Royal Swazi Sun Classic [SAf], FNB Players’ Championship [SAf], Goodyear Classic [SAf]. 1993 Dunlop Phoenix Tournament [Jpn]. 1994 Dubai Desert Classic [Eur], Toyota World Match Play Championship [Eur], Johnnie Walker World Championship [Eur], Sarazen World Open. 1995 Lexington South African PGA Championship [SAf], Toyota World Match Play [Eur], Bells Cup [SAf]. 1996 South African Open [SAf], Toyota World Match Play [Eur], Johnnie Walker Super Tour Event, World Cup [indiv]. 1997 Johnnie Walker Classic [Aus], World Cup [indiv]. 1998 South African Open [SAf] 1999 Alfred Dunhill PGA Championship [SAf], Sun City Nedbank Challenge [SAf]. 2000 Standard Life Loch Lomond [Eur], Nedbank Challenge [SAf]. 2001 Vodacom Players Championship [SAf]. 2002 Heineken Classic [Eur], Dubai Desert Classic [Eur], Cisco World Match Play [Eur], Nedbank Challenge [SAf]. 2003 Heineken Classic [Eur], Johnnie Walker Classic [Eur], The Barclay’s Scottish Open [Eur], Omega European Masters [Eur], World Match Play Championship [Eur]. 2004 Heineken Classic [Eur], HSBC World Match Play Championship [Eur]. 2005 Dubai Desert Classic [Eur], Qatar Masters [Eur]
(4): 1997 PGA Grand Slam of Golf, Dunhill Cup [with David Frost and Retief Goosen]. 1998 Dunhill Cup [with David Frost and Retief Goosen]. 2001 WGC-World Cup [with Retief Goosen].
Ernie is a self-described traditionalist. He likes his clubs to be clean looking but they do have to have the right weight and feel as well. His bag is Titleist right through and he isn't shy about trying new prototypes when Titleist brings them to him;
After a great deal of success with the Titleist 983K Ernie switched last summer to the new 905T. The head is the standard Titleist pear-shaped head but it is the largest driver they have ever made at about 400-ccs. Ernie feels that this new driver gives him more carry distance than the 983. He uses a Fujikura Speeder 757 X-Stiff shaft at 45â€ and 9.5 degrees of loft. He uses a Golf Pride Tour Velvet grip built up with some extra wraps of tape and has his driver swingweighted at a D6.
Ernie carries one fairway wood. It is the new Titleist 904F fairway wood 15 degrees with a Rifle steel shaft. Ernie prefers his fairway woods to have a low, penetrating ball flight so his three wood is probably a little bit deeper in the face than the standard head.
Els carries the Titleist 670 irons from 3-PW. This is the latest offering in Titleist's line of forged muscle-back clubs. It is a more compact head and deeper in the heel to give the club a more square appearance. It will produce a flatter trajectory than the 680 or 690 irons. Ernie's specs are ¼ overlength, with a D6 swingweight, Tour Velvet grips built up with extra wraps and Rifle 7.2 shafts. He also carries a 2-iron. The 2-iron is the Titleist 690CH model. This is a forged cavity back club that offers more forgiveness than the 670.
The wedges that Ernie uses are a Titleist prototype that he has been working on with Bob Vokey for some time. They are the Titleist SM wedges in a 54 and 59 degree. The SM wedges have a forged head and the 59-degree is custom made with a wider sole and very little bounce.
He has been playing around with different putters lately. At the Dunhill Cup in December he was actually using a Never Compromise putter very similar to the milled putter that Vijay is using. It now looks like Ernie has switched back to his trusted Scotty Cameron Studio Stainless 303 Newport.
The golf ball of course is a Titleist ProV1X.
UPDATE March 7, 2005 – Also this weekend… Ernie Els was sporting some new Vokey Spin Milled wedges (56 and 60 degree) and a Titleist prototype driving iron too.