Angry Ernie Els goes to war against USPGA
WENTWORTH: An angry Ernie Els has gone to war against the American Tour over demands that he must play more tournaments in the United States. Although the South African stopped short of saying he would boycott the American Tour he made it clear on the eve of defending his title at the World Match Play Championship that he would not be pushed around.
“I think they need to understand the golfing world has changed through the years. There is a world outside of America and I am part of it,” said the world number two. Els admits he has been seething since receiving a letter from USPGA Commissioner Tim Finchem regarding his committment to the US Tour but he insists he is trying to find a solution. “Naturally we have got to sit down and talk. At the moment it’s kind of letters flying around. I’d like to sit down and talk about it and find a way because I am definitely not hurting their tour at all with my schedule. “I’m not hurting any other players on their tour because none of them will do what I’m doing. So I’m not hurting anybody. I’m just helping the European Tour. I’m playing all over the world,” he explained.
What irks Els is that because he has a US Tour card Finchem wants him to ask permission to play in tournaments outside the States. “And for that release I have to give them one extra tournament,” he complained. “I want to play in the United States. As far as I am concerned I play enough tournments in the US. I play more than 15 over there. “I live in the UK. Samantha goes to school here. Sounds like I’m living over here. “Retief (Goosen) has only played 14 over there up to now. Adam Scott has only played 15 over there and he’s played over here. Why make an exception for me?” fumed Els. Part of the problem is Els’s huge popularity in both Europe and the States. His appearance boosts attendances and makes sponsors happy.
With Tiger Woods playing a limited programme, the USPGA Tour is desperate for stars and while Vijay Singh may be the new world number one he is not a crowd puller. But Els has made it clear that he will not be forced to change his international schedule and he warned the US Tour: “Don’t start putting a padlock around me. That’s not going to work. “I’ve got it quite nice at the moment. I think this year I’ll have 17 in the US, 15 in Europe. If you want to get really nitty, I can go 18 events over there and 13 over here (Europe). But I really thought my schedule this year was really nice.” Els is proud of his globetrotting, playing golf in all corners of the world, and he has no intention of stopping.
“Why should I? I have been doing this all my life. You can’t start telling me, hey, come over here and leave the rest of the world. It’s not going to happen that way. There is no other player on the tour that does what I do,” he said. The South African is top seed in the multi-million dollar World Match Play at Wentworth, which starts on Thursday, and if all goes according to play he will face Singh in Sunday’s 36 hole final. “That will be great. One and two in the world, World Match Play, 36-hole final. I would love to see it happen,” he said.
“But I would like to see him taken out before the final, he laughed. Els’s first round match sees him going against Scotland’s Scott Drummond while Singh takes on European Ryder Cup team captain Bernhard Langer. Other first round matches are KJ Choi (KOR) v Angel Cabrera (ARG), Padraig Harrington (IRL) v Chris Riley (USA), Mike Weir (CAN) v Thomas Levet (FRA), Retief Goosen (RSA) v Jeff Maggart (USA), Todd Hamilton (USA) v Lee Westwood (ENG), Miguel Angel Jimenez (SPA) v Steve Flesch (USA). Woods, Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco all turned down invitations. afp