Ernie Els: "Masters? Bad taste in my mouth"

According to Els, 2004 was one of the years when he played his best golf

by Andrea Gussoni
Ernie Els: "Masters? Bad taste in my mouth"
© Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sport

Ernie Els was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011. By that time, he had won three of his four majors: the U.S. Open in 1994 at Oakmont and in 1997 at Congressional, and the Open Championship in 2002 at Muirfield.

The fourth would come in 2012, again at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Missing from his resume are the PGA Championship and the Masters Tournament. In a recent interview with Golf Monthly, which covered his entire career, one question focused on his annus horribilis.

According to Els, 2004 was one of the years when he played his best golf. He had the opportunity to contend for victory in all four majors, but did not win any.

Ernie Els, statements

But he has no doubt about his biggest disappointment: "They all hurt a bit, but not winning the Masters will leave a bitter taste in my mouth forever." In the 2004 edition, the South African teed off on the 1st hole of the final round tied for fourth at -3.

He finished the round with a 67, the second-best score of the day, which propelled him into the lead with a two-shot advantage over K.J. Choi. As the clubhouse leader, he awaited the arrival of Phil Mickelson, who was playing two under par, with the 18th hole to play.

We know that the 18th hole is not to be taken lightly, a bogey is just around the corner, But Phil Mickelson went beyond, making a birdie with a 5-meter putt that put him in the history books and sent shivers down Els' spine.

Els continued: "It's such a fascinating event, so prestigious, and it means so much, but that day the best player won." "I finished second behind Phil, playing one of my best rounds that Sunday, making putts under pressure and making several birdies on the back nine." "It was very painful." Ernie Els made his last appearance at the Masters in 2017, and a couple of years later, he stated: "I want to be honest, I don't miss that place." "I've had enough." "Especially in the last five editions, I've played terribly."