100 World Class South Africans: Ernie Els

2013-08-22 12:00

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All-round good guy

After Gary Player, Ernie Els is SA’s greatest golfer.

He’s travelled the world playing the game since 1989 –a truly international player.

He’s won 69 tournaments, including four Majors, has been world No.1 and ranked in the Top 10 for a record 788 weeks.

In the ‘Big Five’ era, the early 2000s, he was runner-up to the mighty Tiger Woods more than any other golfer.

While Woods was brought down by personal problems, a knee injury caused Els’s drop in the rankings.

He bounced back to win the 2012 British Open, resulting in a ‘Comeback of the Year’ nomination at this year’s Laureus World Sports Awards.

‘The Big Easy’ will go down in history as a famous golfer (inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011), but he’d also like to be known for helping to conquer autism – his son Ben has the condition.

Els and his wife Liezl established the Els for Autism Foundation in 2009, and have since campaigned to raise funds for a proposed Centre of Excellence, a first-of-itskind specialist school.

Autism has tended to be something families don’t talk about, but Els is determined to change that.

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