Ernie Els has 70 professional career victories to his name, including four Major Championships, two World Golf Championships and seven World Matchplay titles. He is ranked No.1 in all-time career earnings on the European Tour and is known as “The Big Easy” due to his imposing physical stature, along with his fluid golf swing.
My Highlights | My family – Liezl and our two beautiful kids – are my proudest achievement. They’ve been my rock and I wouldn’t have been able to achieve anywhere near as much in golf without their support and love. Golf-wise, winning my four major championships would be the highlight. They came at different times in my career and for that reason they’re all very special in their own way.
A Key Talent | There are many factors that contribute to success or longevity, if you want to call it that. Aside from a few injuries here and there I’ve kept my body in good shape and stayed fit and flexible. That’s one thing. Also, right from the start when I was learning the game from my Dad we paid a lot of attention to the fundamentals and that’s stayed with me. To be honest, my swing hasn’t changed much in the last 25 years. I still have pretty much the same key swing thoughts – get the left shoulder behind the ball, turn your back on the target, keep the transition smooth, those kind of things – and I think that continuity throughout my career has really helped me play my best golf over a long period of time.
The Characteristics Of Success | Same as I said before really. Also you need a determination to succeed, an inner belief in your own ability and a love for the game of golf. Seriously, as soon as you fall out of love with golf then you’re done and dusted – basically, your career is over.
Principles I Live By | My parents taught me that you have to treat people with respect, which is something I’ve always tried to live by. And professionally speaking, if you’re going to do something then do it absolutely to the best of your ability – put your heart and soul into it. Actually whether you’re talking about sport or life in general, there’s truth in the principle that you get out what you put in.”
Dealing With Doubt | Obviously as a sportsman you’re going to have moments where you start to doubt yourself, for me especially midway through 2011 when I was having a tough time of it. People were writing some pretty negative stuff, but you learn to ignore that side of the business. Anyway, I was too busy working my butt off trying to get my game back to where I wanted it to be and slowly the belief started to come back. We had a sniff of a win in the US Open in 2012 then obviously there was that amazing week at Lytham where I won my fourth major. That was very, very special. When times are tough, you have to work harder than ever and keep believing in yourself. That’s when it helps to have good people around you.”
Performing At My Peak | Well, as I said if you have a supportive family and a good team of people around you, that’s a massive help. But golf is an individual sport. You have to be true to yourself and do the work behind the scenes – the time on the range, the hours in the gym, the eating right and looking after your body. The tournaments that the public get to see are really just the tip of the iceberg for us.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | My dream after turning pro was to emulate my hero Gary Player and win the career Grand Slam. I’m proud to have won my majors, proud of the career that I’ve had, but missing out on the PGA and the Masters does sting a little bit. Obviously winning majors doesn’t get any easier when you turn 40, but I’ve got some gas left in the tank. So yes, the Grand Slam is still the dream.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | Many people will remember me as a golfer and a major champion, which is fine; as I said, I’m proud of my achievements on the golf course. But since Liezl and I established the Els for Autism Foundation in 2009, we’re building a bigger legacy, something much more meaningful than sport. So I’d like to be remembered as somebody who took the issue of autism and did something with it. The rest of my life, we’ll be fighting this thing and trying to help people affected by autism all over the world.