'Big Easy' hoping to 'make some noise' at US Open

Ernie Els (Getty Images)
Ernie Els (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Two-time US Open champion Ernie Els cannot wait to get on to the Erin Hills Golf Course, as the 117th US Open gets underway on Thursday.

Els is the only South African US Open winner in the field (1994 and 1997) and has shown signs of getting back into form.

The 47-year-old finished tied 35th at the Bryon Nelson last month with a three-under-par 278 for the tournament.

Leading up to the tournament, Els had a decent finish in the St. Jude Classic after heading into the weekend on 3-under-par, but a 74 in the third round and 71 over the final 18 holes saw him finish 2-over par in Memphis last week.

"I've got to say that compared to where my game was in the first 3-4 months of this season, there's a definite improvement right through the bag," Els wrote in his weekly newsletter.

"As always, you've got to stay patient and just keep trying to do the right things. We all know this game can turn around in a heartbeat."

It's been 20 years since Els lifted up his second US Open trophy at the Congressional in 1997.

Els, then 27, outlasted Jeff Maggert, Tom Lehman and Colin Montgomerie to capture his second major title in Washington DC.

"Ever since I made my US Open debut with a top-10 finish at Baltusrol in 1993, I've made no secret of the fact that this is one of my favourite weeks of the year. I just love everything about this great championship and I can't wait to get started," said Els.

This year's US Open poses a unique challenge for the field, as few have played the eight-year-old Erin Hills Golf Course, but Els has a game plan heading into this week.

"The goal between now and then, as always in majors, is to get your prep done so that you're comfortable with the golf course, but at the same time be mindful not to do too much. Pace yourself, basically," said Els.

As a former champion, Els knows what it takes to win the trophy and wants to stun golf critics and spectators alike by possibly winning his fifth-major title.

"This is one of the toughest weeks of the year, mentally and physically, so you've got to leave plenty of gas in the tank," he said.

"If I can get the ball in play off the tee and hit a few more fairways than I have in recent months, then honestly I like my chances of making some noise this week. That's always the plan!"

Els will tee off in Round 1 alongside Americans Webb Simpson and Lucas Glover at 15:35 SA time.

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