Ernie Els, a two-time U.S. Open champ and two-time British Open champ, had a tough weekend, shooting 83-78-308 to finish last. Barring a victory over the next 12 months, it may be his final Masters after 23 appearances. His exemption as the 2012 British Open winner expires and he will need a PGA Tour win to return in 2018.
Excerpts of his post-round interview:
Q: Just express how you went through the day and how much maybe you tried to reminisced while also trying to play golf.
A: I had a good day. I just said, I had a good day with Jeff, it’s the second time that he’s been my marker around here. So, just nice playing with him. And it was quite a few people out on the front nine getting their seats and stuff, the patrons, and they gave me a nice applause here and there. And it was just nice to play.
I, obviously, didn’t play good again, but it’s nice to go around again. And I don’t really feel that emotional, I think, just because of my play. If I played better, I think it would have been a different feeling. But it was a good weekend, beautiful weather and nice to play four rounds.
Q: You looked especially, I think, coming off of 8, or coming off 7 going to 8, you looked like you were having fun.
A: Well, if you make a birdie, you have fun. It didn’t last very long. But I had a good day. It was nice playing with these guys and playing the Tournament again and playing four rounds, as I said, was the positive.
The negative is just that my play was atrocious and that’s the hard part to take. But if I look back at the 23, 24 years here, it was, you know, how many professional golfers get the opportunity to play the Masters 23 times? And having a chance to win it a couple of times was special and this tournament is just not for me. I’ve won a lot of events around the world, but this one just eluded me and that’s fine.
Q: You haven’t written off not coming back here, have you?
A: No, I think there’s still obviously a chance. I’m still trying to win a PGA Tour event to get to 20. And I’m 48 this year, so if I get back, great. Obviously, it’s not totally out of the picture, but if it is, it is.