Els ‘grateful” for Accenture spot
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Ernie Els acknowledged that he might owe Phil Mickelson a steak dinner and he’ll "maybe send him a good bottle of Bordeaux."
After all, if Mickelson weren’t skipping the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship next week to take a family vacation, Els wouldn’t be in the field in Tucson.
Els ranked 65th in the world when the qualification process ended on Monday. Only the available top 64 players are eligible but with Mickelson taking a break after playing five straight tournaments, Els got the nod.
"I know there were days when I didn’t even go there," Els said, thinking about the two Accenture Match Play Championships he missed in 2004 and ’05. "It shows you how times have changed.
"Now I’m very grateful to be in the field. I’ll be playing next week, and I’ve got to play myself into Doral and I’ve got to play myself into the Masters. That’s a nice break coming my way."
Els, who needs to work his way into the top 50 in the world or top 10 in the FedExCup to have a chance to play in the Cadillac Championship, can only help himself this week at the Northern Trust Open. He needs a win or a top-50 ranking to get into the Masters, as well.
Els, though, likes the challenge. He faced a similar one late last year when he entered the Wyndham Championship ranked 126th in the FedExCup and played his way into the Playoffs where he remained for three weeks.
"It’s a motivation, I mean, obviously," Els said. "… My goal this year is to really get back and play proper golf and maybe get back to that short putter. … I think I’m close to getting back to that and playing the way I can play. That’s what I want to do. And I think if I do that, I think the rest will take care of itself.
"But obviously the Masters is right around the corner. I’ve never really been in that position where I had to try and qualify for it because I’ve been fortunate enough to basically glide through and get in there. So I’ve got to do some work, and I think it’s good for me. It will keep me focused, believe me, get me trying.
"And I think that that’s a good thing. I’m going to play quite a few tournaments now running up to Augusta, so I’ll give myself a good chance of getting in."