Ernie Els is looking ahead to the next two Major Championships with his self-belief back after challenging for the 112th US Open throughout the final afternoon at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Els, who missed out on the Masters earlier this year, advanced into the thick of the battle with a brilliant eagle two on the seventh, and remained in contention for a third US Open title until he pulled his approach to the 16th.
Unable to get up and down from left of the green, the dropped shot proved costly, as did the bogey on the 18th, as he finished with a two over par 72 and four over par for the Championship in ninth place – just one place short of an invitation to next year’s Masters Tournament.
But importantly the US Open Champion in 1994 and 1997, and Open Champion in 2002, was contending in a Major once again.
“I was a lot calmer,” he said. “I felt in control. So that's a good sign. So we have got two Majors left and I'm going to take a nice break now and try and regroup and come back. I feel that where I was last year and where I am now, it's a huge change. I'm contending now, I feel I have a chance, and if you eliminate those mistakes, I could win one of these things again. So I got the belief back.”
The pulled nine iron approach to the 16th was the shot that hurt the most, with Els admitting he would go to bed tonight thinking of that shot.
“I missed the shot,” he said. “I guess I got what I deserved. You can't miss it left there. We all know that. That basically cost me the tournament.”