Is Ernie Els one of the latest victims to fall shot due to his putting woes or even the putting yips? If he managed to shoot par on the final three holes at the Transitions Championship recently he would of won the event. But one poor shot and a couple missed clutch putts and he finishes tied for 5th.
Els jacked a 5-foot birdie putt on hole No. 16. And then he finished the round with two bogeys including a 4-foot par putt on number 18 that would have gotten him in the playoff. Instead he finished tied for 5th and out of the playoff.
Many golf experts think that Els’ putting woes have hurt his game for the last two years. Some people have written that Els is another victim of the yips. But every golfer struggles with pressure putts on the last hole of regulation.
Luke Donald, the eventual winner of the tournament said putting is more mental than physical. “Ernie’s obviously struggled on the greens more than anything,” said Donald. “Putting is very mental. Hopefully he can figure it out.”
Els said he was confident on the last hole—that he felt he would make the par putt to get into the playoff. “I just pulled it a bit,” said Els. Was the pulled putt cause by the yips or was it due the pressure of the moment? Only Els knows what really happened to him on the last two holes of the tournament. But we know a lot was at stake for Els besides winning a golf tournament. He also needed the win to qualify for the 2012 Masters.
Els said on his website after the tough finish, “But that putt on 18…well, it kind of leaves a nasty taste. It’s a difficult green, but I should have made it. I was trying to jam it in there and I just pulled it, simple as that.”
He’s a professional and he approached the meltdown with class on his website. He said he was proud of himself for getting into contention. His aim is to try to win every time he tees it up. “I’ve said throughout my career that whenever I tee it up I always play to win, so any time I get the opportunity to do that and don’t get the job done, obviously I’m disappointed and angry with myself. That pretty much summed up my emotions on Sunday evening,” Els said.
Trying to focus on the positive, Els said reminds us that it was the best performance on Tour he’s had since 2010. “It’s a tough deal, but I have to take stock and try to see the positives. This was one of my best performances on the PGA Tour since 2010. I drove the ball well, topped the greens in regulation for the week and I was right up there in the number of birdies made. I made some nice putts, too. All you can do, as I said before, is keep playing well, keep putting in the work and keep putting yourself in a position to win.”
Yips or no yips with the putter, it’s good to see Ernie back in contention to win a tournament. Maybe he will transform his disappointment into a renewed career and a Masters’ Win.