Els told anyone that would listen before his round started yesterday that he had a good feeling about the day.
Six shots behind a seemingly unflappable Scott, the notion seemed kind of silly. But on a day when the field went backwards, Els fired a 68 and won his fourth major.
You can thank the fine folks at Augusta National for lighting a major fire under Ernie’s pants. Out of the top-50 in the OWGR before the Masters, Els found himself on the outside looking in this spring. He increased his schedule and got his game back in marvelous shape, but failed to qualify when his bid to win the Shell Houston Open the week before.
When told that Augusta would not grant the exemption, he told anyone that listened he would not have accepted.
That was all the motivation the elder South African needed and, while not winning this year, his play got better and better. By the time he hit Royal Lytham, he was ready and had played himself into a position he was comfortable with to attack on Sunday.
While he really did need Scott to move back towards the field to have a chance, Els was the only pursuer to take full advantage. His 68 was the best score of anyone in the last five groups and his confident birdie putt on the last hole showed all of us never to take his game for granted.
While it really is impossible to say just who has been impacted most in the win column during the Tiger Woods era, you get the sense that at Els peak he would have won at least a Masters and probably another US Open.
While Woods three victories are quite an accomplishment, the resurgence of Els is the real comeback story.