Els remembers 'intense' Westner

Wayne Westner (AP)
Wayne Westner (AP)

Johannesburg - When Ernie Els and Wayne Westner won the World Cup of Golf in Cape Town back in 1996, it was one of South African sport's crowning moments. 

It was part of a few golden years.

The Springboks won the 1995 Rugby World Cup and Bafana Bafana triumphed at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996. 

With Els having won the US Open in 1994 and 1997, things were rosy on the South African sporting front. 

The 'Big Easy' took a little trip down memory lane in Johannesburg on Friday morning, remembering those four days at Erinvale Golf Club in Somerset West when he and Westner obliterated the rest of the field, finishing a massive 18 shots ahead of the USA. 

"I was kind of a loose, laid back guy back in the 90s, especially when we won the World Cup," Els recalls.

"We were both a little bit tense and nervous on the first day and then that evening we had dinner and I had a couple of beers.

"Wayne relaxed a bit and then we were just on fire for the next three days. We were two different characters. He was quite an intense character and I was kind of laid back, but we gelled very well."

Westner died last week after committing suicide.

"He was a good friend of mine. He really tried to perfect the game of golf," said Els.

"At times he was unbelievable in the way he played ... not many people realise. He didn’t quite reach those goals internationally, but he kept his European Tour card for a long time and played on the PGA Tour. It’s a great loss."

Els took a break from his SA Open schedule on Friday morning to announce his involvement in the Zanzibar Amber Resort. 

Els will be designing a golf course for the resort that is expected to be completed in 2022. 

Els opened with a 2-over par, 74 in the first round of the SA Open at Glendower Golf Club and will need to 'go low' if he'd to make the cut for the weekend.

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