Height: 6 ft 3 in
Born: October 27, 1989
Year Turned Pro: 1989
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Sponsor: SAP, Ecco
Growing up in South Africa, Ernie Els was a standout junior tennis player, winning a major junior tournament at the age of 13. Fortunately, for golf fans, Els was even better at golf. He began playing at the age of 8 and by the time he was 14 years old, he had become a scratch golfer. Els won the South African Amateur as a 17-year old, breaking Gary Player’s record for the youngest man to win the title.
In 1984, at the age of 13, Els beat Phil Mickelson in the World Junior Golf Championship Boy’s 13-14 age group. More than 3 decades later, the two players would hold 9 Major Championships between them.
Els’ first Major came at the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont. A third round 66 gave Els a two-shot lead entering the final round. He struggled to a final round 73 and found himself in a three-way playoff with Loren Roberts and Colin Montgomerie the next day. After 18 holes, Els was still tied with Roberts whom he defeated on the second hole of their sudden death playoff.
Els added a second U.S. Open win at Congressional in 1997. Over the next few years Els became a consistent threat at Major championships and would occupy the #1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings, but additional Majors slipped through his fingers.
In 2002, Els won his first Open Championship at Muirfield. He would wait an entire decade before adding another Major title, winning a second Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in 2012. In doing so, Els became on the 8th player to win a Major championship in three different decades.
Els also holds the record for the most World Matchplay Championships, winning 7 times over the course of his career and defeating greats like his hero Seve Ballesteros on the way to some of those championships.
“The Big Easy” and his wife Liezl have two children and reside in England, South Africa and Florida.