Will Els be back on song?

2005-11-29 21:28
Johannesburg - Will Ernie Els be back on song?

That is the question posed by many golf enthusiasts on the eve of the 25th Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City.

After a 20-week break in which he recovered from a knee injury and an operation Els returns to the Gary Player course on Thursday.

Although the progress of the defending champion, Retief Goosen, will be followed closely, Els - South African golf's favourite son - will probably be the biggest attraction.

There is good news regarding the Big Easy's injury.

Els played his first round of golf at Sun City without any discomfort on Saturday and he could not have asked for a better start.

Writing on his website he said: "In my first practice round here at Sun City I birdied the 1st hole, hitting a driver, 9-iron approach, and draining a 20-foot putt. That made me smile."

He won the tournament in 1999, 2000 and 2002 and rested on Sunday, but on Monday he was back on the course and played 18 holes.

"My knee is somewhat sore and swollen, but I'm not worried. I'm optimistic about my level of play."

Self-confidence could however be his Achilles heel.

The world's top player, Tiger Woods, acknowledged that he initially battled with self-confidence after undergoing a similar knee operation at the end of 2002.

Luckily the big South African has an ally in the Gary Player course.

"This tournament has been good to me over the years. The course is in the best condition yet and is looking fantastic. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Els says he has worked on his swing the past few weeks.

"I'm still not hitting the ball as far as I did last year, but it will come right."

Tim Clark is the other South African playing in the tournament.

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