Ernie Els (Getty Images)
Ernie Els hopes a return to British soil can reignite his form as South Africa’s Open Champion prepares to compete in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The 42 year old’s emotional triumph at Royal Lytham & St Annes has been followed by some average performances, and Els has not recorded a top-20 finish since pipping Adam Scott to claim a fourth Major Championship.
However, a chance to return to Links golf at St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie could be just what Els needs to rediscover his spark.
“It’s great to be back,” he said. “Nice to see the sun shining. I haven't played links obviously since July, so I'm really looking forward to catching up with friends and hopefully playing good golf.
“It seems like I've been busy ever since then [The Open].
“This is my job, but sometimes you just need a little bit of time off and I would love to have had that week off. But then to the PGA and then to the FedEx Cup golf tournaments, and I just haven't really had time to really reflect. I've had to do it on the road without being where I want to be.
“I haven't really played great golf since then. I'm trying hard. After the win, maybe subconsciously, you just kind of switch off a little bit.
“But it's nice to come back to links golf, come back to Scotland, and who knows - it might just click here this week.
“I haven't really had the energy to really go for it. I think maybe this week could be a week where things turn around again.
“It's changed a lot of things. I'm 43 in a couple of weeks, so I'm not getting any younger. I've got to think of my future, and this obviously helps a lot. It gives me new hope and new confidence that for the next five years, I'm playing in every Major.
“So I'm playing quite a few Majors the next couple of years, and I've got to think that I've got a chance to win, maybe hopefully one or a couple more even. I think next year, Muirfield comes to mind - the whole schedule next year is great for Majors.”
Els also feels the more relaxed Pro-Am format can help his game, although added that he would not be taking matters lightly come Sunday evening.
“It's a unique bonding week for the boys,” he added. “Businessmen and sports men, previous legends from different sport getting together and playing golf, trying to play golf, some of us, and just getting together and having a good week on the links. Great dinners in the evening that happen.
“It's a wonderful get together, basically. For the pros, it obviously gets quite serious over the weekend; if you're in contention, you have to try to win the golf tournament.”