Ernie Els had played beautifully all week. On the last hole, a par five, his ball was in the middle of the fairway, 190 yards from the green. A comfortable six iron, he said. And a comfortable two-shot lead. Make his birdie (or par) and get out of there. It was a mere formality.
Then things went terribly wrong for the Big Easy. Here are excerpts from the account Ernie posted today at his Web site:
To be honest with you, yesterday is about the most disappointed I’ve ever felt walking off a golf course. I was gutted. But hey, let’s keep things in proportion. This is sport. It’s not like anyone died out there. I just have to take it on the chin and move on.Well, he’s right, of course. Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer come to mind. So do Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson.
I had a two-shot lead playing the last and bombed a great drive down the middle of the fairway. I’m sure some people today might say I should have laid-up short of the water, but hey, I had only about 190 to the front edge and for me that’s just a comfortable 6-iron. I really didn’t feel like it was a lay-up situation. Like I said, people will disagree, but it’s easy to be smart and make judgments after the event. I went with what I felt was the right shot at the time.
I just didn’t get all of that 6-iron. Then on the pitch shot I got a bit quick with the hands and pulled it a fraction, so it went a few yards longer through the air than it should have…into the water again. Anyway, you know the rest. It was horrible, but it’s history. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. If you look back over the years, some of the best players in the world have thrown away tournaments on the last few holes.
Really, what more can you say?
At least it wasn’t a major Ernie threw away. That would be far worse. Still, it's highly disturbing.
The Armchair Golfer