Ernie Els is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the game, having won more than 60 professional tournaments around the world, including two US Opens, two Open Championships, and a record seven World Matchplay titles.
Ernie was born in South Africa on 17th October 1969. As a youngster, he was outstanding in soccer, cricket, rugby and tennis. At the age of 13 he won a significant regional tennis event, the Eastern Transvaal Junior Championships. A year later aged 14 and playing off a scratch handicap, Ernie won the world junior golf championship in San Diego, California, beating Phil Mickelson into second place. Ernie was just 16 years old when he formally competed against professional golfers. He was awarded his Junior Springbok colours in 1984, the State President Sports Award in 1987, and in 1988 his full Springbok colours.
Unsurprisingly from such auspicious beginnings, Ernie’s record since turning pro is sensational. In the period from the mid-1990s, when he was for a while the No.1 ranked golfer in the world, to the present day his haul of trophies is second only to Tiger Woods.
The international scope of Ernie’s victories is second to none. Indeed, Ernie is properly recognised as one of golf’s truly global players. And he clearly travels well. He has occupied a spot in the top-10 of golf’s official world rankings for more than 700 consecutive weeks, more than any other golfer since the current ranking system came into operation in the mid-1980s.
However, it is not only records and achievements for which Ernie is revered. His classic, powerful golf swing is universally admired, and aspired to, from both sides of the ropes. And while his easy-going nature masks a fierce competitive drive, it is all of these qualities, along with an engaging on-course persona, that have helped make Ernie one of the most popular golfers in the game today.
The 1994 US Open at Oakmont
The 1997 US Open at Congressional
The 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield
The 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Anne's