Golf Australia

Els vows Royal master class

Ernie Els
Ernie Els feels right at home at Royal Melbourne.

Ernie Els will give a crash course in Royal Melbourne to his International team before they even arrive for the Presidents Cup.

Els, skipper for the first time of a team he played in eight times, is regarded as having arguably the greatest knowledge of the gem in Victoria's Sandbelt of any non-Australian professional.

His opening 60 in the 2004 Heineken Classic remains the single greatest round on the Composite Course - and his three successive wins in that event from 2002 are part of Royal Melbourne folklore.

The giant South African today told a global media conference that he would not have the final say in how the famous course would be set up for the 12-15 December showdown with the United States.

But he made it patently clear that his familiarity with and success at Royal Melbourne would be critical in giving his underdog team the edge.

"It's a great, classic type of Sandbelt golf course ... and I've tried to tell them a lot about the course. I'm going to give them even more information in the weeks ahead," Els promised.

"I've got all kinds of different plans to show them how each and every hole should be played, the way I think we can get the best out of it, and then we'll take it from there.

"I've talked to them about how I feel the golf course flows, how I feel the best way to attack the course.

"I've tried to tell them about the Australian conditions which can be fast and a little windy, quite warm, also. That's why short game is very important around Australian golf courses, especially Melbourne.

"I've stressed to them that they've got to try and be prepared, meaning that every part of their game should be at a championship level. Basically try and prepare like you prepare for a major championship, where you try and have the whole game to be there.

"To buy into a certain way to play the golf course will be quite key for us.

"The course set-up, unfortunately I can't do anything to that. You know, the (PGA) Tour staff will set up the golf course and also the flag positions. You know, that's that.

"But I've got a lot of experience around Royal Melbourne, of the winds and certain conditions, and in the practice rounds I will make it my mission to let every single player know of where to be hitting it and definitely where the `X's are, where you do not want to go.

"I'll be going through their notebooks myself, personally, and putting in notes and do as much as I can to help these guys understand the course, the conditions, the winds and so forth.

"There could be a lot of work that I have to do on that front because it can be quite a tricky course with certain flag positions and winds.

"That's kind of my job as captain to do that and then I have to try and get the pairings matching up the best I can, and that's my job.

"The rest of it is up to the team, fortunately. I've got a great set of guys. I'm going to have a great set of 12 players, and they've got to do the business.

"I'm going to give them as much information as I can, and then we've got to play, and then you've got to see where it falls."

Els hinted strongly that a great percentage of his team would begin to formalise their bonding experience with starts at the Australian Open the week beforehand.

Already, Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman and likely captain's pick Jason Day have confirmed to play at The Australian, but Els said he'd heard more positive banter in the locker rooms.

"Yeah, that is the plan. I think we're going to have quite a nice representation at the Australian Open. Quite a few guys have committed from what I've heard.

"We're going to have quite a nice group of players playing in the Aussie Open, so that will be really great. And then also Abraham Ancer, who's the defending champion of the Australian Open will be there ... so that will really get the crowd going, also."


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