Tags: golf | talk | ernie | els

Golf Talk: Ernie Els Inspired by Padraig Harrington

Tuesday, 07 Oct 2008 04:28 PM

By Anthony Pioppi

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  • Ernie Els Inspired by Padraig Harrington

  • World Golf Tour a Possibility?

  • PGA Tour Rookie Johnson Beats Vet

  • Tiger's Caddie Gives $1 Million to Starship Foundation


    Ernie Els Inspired by Padraig Harrington

    When Tiger Woods called it quits after the U.S. Open with a knee injury, there were a handful of names tossed around who many thought would fill the void and rack up one of golf's four Majors.

    Ernie Els, with three under his belt but none since 2002, was one of those mentioned. His season has been nothing other than a bust.

    "Not winning a major since 2002 doesn't sit well with me," Els said.

    He summed up his play in the Majors.

    "This year, I had a very bad U.S. Masters and missed the cut there … the U.S. Open, I hit the ball as good as I have all year, but I was clueless on the greens," he said.

    "At the Open Championship, I shot 80 on the first day, and at the PGA, I didn't have a good one either. But that's why you make changes, to try to find answers and get better, because I feel as healthy and as fit as ever, and my swing is really good — so there are a lot of things going for me."

    Els is looking to Padraig Harrington for inspiration

    "I just need to get things going my way, and that's basically momentum. That's what Padraig has got at the moment," Els said.

    "The way he won the (British) Open was incredible golf on the final nine holes and at the U.S. PGA, getting up and down all the time. That's momentum and a lot of confidence. He's riding a nice wave at the moment, whereas I've just had a lack of confidence on the golf course this year, and I am working on that at the moment."

    World Golf Tour a Possibility?

    In the not too distant future, there could be a World Golf Tour as the PGA and European Tours come together, at least according to EPGA executive director George O'Grady.

    While announcing the EPGA schedule for the 2009 season, O'Grady said he has talked with his counterpart in the United States.

    "There's nothing specific and not too much should be read into it at the moment, but Tim Finchem and I talk all the time. We look at the world together," O'Grady said.

    Rumors have surfaced that the PGA Tour may be looking to Asia, already the domain of the EPGA, for events.

    The European Tour will have 53 events in 2009 starting Nov. 6, 2008 in Shanghai, China, and culminating with the $10 million Dubai World Championship in November 2009.

    New events include the Czech Golf Open, English Open, Canal+ Open, Volvo World Match Play, and the Dubai World Championship.

    The Dubai event concludes the inaugural "Race to Dubai" and includes a $10 million bonus pool for the top 15 players on the money list.

    Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia said they will play more tournaments in Europe as a result of the Race to Dubai, which replaces the Order of Merit.

    "I think the Race to Dubai will add a sparkle," Harrington said.

    "I know many of the pros, including myself, are looking at our schedules to give ourselves the best chances of going out there and winning that. I have a very tight schedule on both sides of the world, but I would like to give myself a good chance of winning that, especially in the first year."

    PGA Tour Rookie Johnson Beats Vet

    Once the season's majors and the Ryder Cup are played, the PGA Tour loses its luster as most of the big names head home for some recuperating.

    The television coverage of the remaining events is minimal, the galleries tiny, and the weather can be downright unpleasant. But that doesn't mean there is any less drama.

    Take, for instance, the recent Turning Stone Resort Championship: PGA Tour rookie Dustin Johnson birdied the last two holes to win the event, allowing him to cancel his return trip to Q School.

    He shot 69 on Sunday for a four-round total of 279, then had to wait nearly an hour to see if his score held up. It did. He beat tour vet Robert Allenby by a shot.

    With the victory and the $1.08 million check, came a two-year exemption for Johnson.

    Charles Warren was also able to jump into the top 125 this week.

    There is also the tragic side. Two well-known names, Rich Beem and Tom Lehman, fell below the cut line though both have won majors in the past. Beem went from 124 to 126, and Lehman 123 to 127. The final full-field event is No. 6-9.

    Tiger's Caddie Gives $1 Million to Starship Foundation

    While Tiger Woods rehabs his knee, caddie Steve Williams is keeping busy.

    In 2007, Williams made a promise to deliver $1 million as part of the $5.5 needed to build a cancer ward at Starship, a children's hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, his home country. Recently he delivered.

    The ward treats two-thirds of child oncology cases in New Zealand. He presented the check to four-year-old Ethan Rae and his two-year-old brother, Oscar. In December, the boys became the first siblings in New Zealand to receive almost simultaneous bone marrow transplants.

    The funds come from the Steve Williams Foundation, which normally supports junior golf initiatives. Williams and his wife heard about the Starship Foundation's project to rebuild the oncology and hematology ward, and visited the hospital.

    "After spending a day here, you couldn't help but want to be involved," he said. "The conditions that the kids and parents are living in now ... you could see how much help was needed. It was a no-brainer."

    Williams will also make his television debut as television commentator for the first time at the upcoming made-for-TV Kiwi Challenge.

    The event is set to include Australian Adam Scott and Americans Hunter Mahan, Anthony Kim and Brandt Snedeker.

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