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You are here: Golf Club Membership > Golf Information > South African Golfers > Ernie Els

South African Golfer - Ernie Els

The Golf Club featuring South African Golfer Ernie Els
Ernie Els

Theodore Ernest "Ernie" Els (born October 17, 1969)

Els turned professional at the end of 1989, and won his first professional tournament in 1991 on the Southern Africa Tour (today the Sunshine Tour). Among his numerous victories since are three major championships: Els won the US Open in 1994 at the Oakmont Country Club and 1997 (this time at the Congressional Country Club), and the British Open in 2002. Other highlights in Ernie's career include topping the 2003 and 2004 European Tour Order of Merit (money list), and winning the World Match Play Championship a record six times. He has held the number one spot in the Official World Golf Rankings and is consistently ranked in the top five. He has been in the top ten for a total of 646 weeks. Nobody has been in the top ten longer. In 2003 he was voted 37th on the SABC3's Great South Africans. He won the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in the 1991/92 and 1994/95 seasons. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Els is known for his willingness to participate in tournaments all around the world (he regularly plays in European Tour-sanctioned events in Asia, Australasia, and his native country of South Africa). He says that his globe-trotting schedule is in recognition of the global nature of golf, but it has caused some friction with the U.S. PGA TOUR, an organization that would prefer Els to play more tournaments in the United States. In late 2004, Tim Finchem, the director of the PGA Tour, wrote quite a firm letter to Ernie asking him to do so, but Els publicized and rejected this request. The PGA Tour's attitude caused considerable offense in the golfing world outside of North America. Els missed several months of the 2005 season due to injury, but won the second event on his return, the Dunhill Championship. Els has not missed a cut on the PGA Tour since the 2004 Bay Hill Invitational and has not missed a cut on the European Tour since the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic. He is currently leading the statistic of most consecutive cuts on both circuits. When not playing, Els has a golf course design business, a charitable foundation which supports golf among underprivileged youngsters in South Africa, and a highly-regarded wine-making business.

Tournament Wins

Amateur wins
1984 World Junior Championship
1986 South African Boys Championship, South African Amateur Championship
1989 South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship

PGA Tour wins (15)
1994 (1) U.S. Open
1995 (1) GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic
1996 (1) Buick Classic
1997 (2) U.S. Open, Buick Classic
1998 (1) Bay Hill Invitational
1999 (1) Nissan Open
2000 (1) The International
2002 (2) Genuity Championship, The Open Championship
2003 (2) Mercedes Championships, Sony Open in Hawaii
2004 (3) Sony Open in Hawaii, Memorial Tournament, WGC-American Express Championship

European Tour wins (22)
1994 (1) Dubai Desert Classic
1995 (1) Lexington South African PGA Championship
1997 (1) Johnnie Walker Classic
1998 (1) South African Open
1999 (1) Alfred Dunhill South African PGA Championship
2000 (1) Standard Life Loch Lomond
2002 (3) Heineken Classic, Dubai Desert Classic, The Open Championship
2003 (5) Heineken Classic, Johnnie Walker Classic, Barclays Scottish Open, Omega European Masters, HSBC World Matchplay Championship
2004 (3) Heineken Classic, WGC-American Express Championship, HSBC World Matchplay Championship
2005 (3) Dubai Desert Classic, Qatar Masters, BMW Asian Open
2006 (1) Dunhill Championship (2005 calendar year, 2006 European Tour season)
2007 (1) South African Airways Open (2006 calendar year, 2007 European Tour season)
Els's victories in The Open and the WGC-American Express Championship count as wins on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. His two U.S. Opens do not count as European Tour wins because the three U.S. based majors did not become part of the European Tour's official schedule until 1998.

Sunshine Tour wins (15)
1991 (1) Amatola Sun Classic
1992 (6) Protea Assurance South African Open, Lexington South African PGA Championship, South African Masters, Hollard Royal Swazi Sun Classic, First National Bank Players Championship, Goodyear Classic
1995 (2) Bell's Cup, Lexington South African PGA Championship (co-sanctioned with European Tour)
1996 (1) Philips South African Open
1998 (1) South African Open (co-sanctioned with European Tour)
1999 (1) Alfred Dunhill South African PGA Championship (co-sanctioned with European Tour)
2001 (1) Vodacom Players Championship
2005 (1) Dunhill Championship (co-sanctioned with European Tour, 2006 season)
2006 (1) South African Airways Open (co-sanctioned with European Tour, 2007 season)

Other wins (10)
1993 (1) Dunlop Phoenix (Japan Golf Tour)
1994 (1) Toyota World Match Play Championship (unofficial money European Tour event)
1995 (1) Toyota World Match Play Championship (unofficial money European Tour event)
1996 (1) Toyota World Match Play Championship (unofficial money European Tour event)
1997 (1) PGA Grand Slam of Golf (unofficial money PGA Tour event)
1999 (1) Nedbank Million Dollar Challenge (unofficial money Sunshine Tour event)
2000 (1) Nedbank Golf Challenge (unofficial money Sunshine Tour event)
2002 (2) Nedbank Golf Challenge (unofficial money Sunshine Tour event), Cisco World Match Play Championship (unofficial money European Tour event)
2004 (1) Nelson Mandela Invitational (unofficial money Sunshine Tour event; with Vincent Tshabalala)

Alfred Dunhill Cup
1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 (winners), 1998 (winners), 1999, 2000

World Cup
1992, 1993, 1996 (Individual and team winners), 1997, 2001 (winners)

Presidents Cup
1996, 1998 (Winners), 2000, 2003 (Draw)

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