Els putting his woes behind him? 0
Ernie Els of South Africa kisses the Claret Jug after winning the British Open golf championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes, northern England July 22, 2012. (Phil Noble/REUTERS)
Just last year, Ernie Els was in a bad place.
The three-time major champion figured his days of contending on golf's biggest stage were over.
Most the of the problems stemmed from his putting.
"That's the thing; when you've been where I was, you have no confidence in putting, you don't want to have that one coming back. You guys have heard that so many times, but that's the situation I was in. I was coasting everything up to the hole and wasn't giving the hole a scare," he said.
"I just realized I was in a lot of trouble with the putter. It came from listening to that guy and listening to this guy. That's where I was and I don't know if there's lower than that."
In January, Els started working with Dr. Sherylle Calder, a vision skills specialist who uses something called the EyeGym to improve eye, hand and foot coordination. After his British Open victory, Els told a small group of reporters Calder looked at his stroke and said it was the worst she had ever seen.
"She was in shock," he said.
It's been a process rebuilding his stroke.
After Els missed a couple of short putts at the Transitions Championship in March, commentator David Feherty introduced Els at an exhibition by saying the SOuth African would be "putting with a live rattlesnake." It was a comment Els called a low blow.
"It comes from retraining your whole outlook on putting. And that's why I started working with Sherylle, just changed the whole thing, mindset, training, everything and I was really going from a totally different angle, which I liked, because I tried everything else.
"Obviously, in March I looked like an absolute fool. People were laughing at me and making jokes about me and really hitting me low, saying I'm done and I should hang it up. So to come through and make a putt like that (on 18 for a birdie) and make pressure putts on the back nine, that was the whole goal, that was the whole thing, so to sit here with it now is quite satisfying."
Els actually was ranked 112th in putting for the week, with 30.5 putts a round (the Open stats incorporate the two rounds played by players who missed the cut), but led the tournament in greens in regulation.
But he made the putts when he needed them.