The 2011 season was anything but filled with poor play and frustration for the Big Easy; it seemed to reach the breaking point at different times during the season.
After the first round at the PGA Championship, Els was ready to pack it in for the season and after missing the cut on Friday, Els had a change of heart. He committed to the final regular season event in Greensboro at the Wyndham Championship.
Before the Wyndham Championship Els fired his caddie, then went and visited a back specialist and came to Greensboro with a better attitude.
Making a bold charge through three rounds, Els’ final round 72 earned him a T30, but more importantly the South African moved from outside the 125 on the FedEx Cup points list to 118 and was playoff bound.
A T16 at Boston would qualify Els for the BMW Championship in Chicago where the run would ultimately end with a T42 finish and 67th on the playoff points list, far short of the top 30 he would need to play next week in Atlanta.
“(I) really dedicate myself for a playoff run, and that’s kind of what we did,” Els said. “It was in a sadistic way, fun, to be under the gun every week, to really see where your bloody game is, now you’ve got to make a three‑footer to survive. It’s kind of like Tour school, survival. So it was good, brought a lot of weaknesses out to the front. Either embarrass yourself or get better kind of thing, and I feel like I got better.”
Els will take a week off and then play in Scotland at the Dunhill Links and eventually make his way down to Australia, where he will be an asset to Captain Greg Norman, versus a empty suit, all to a month of playing under the gun.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.