Golf-Els enhances reputation as King of Wentworth

VIRGINIA WATER, England, Oct 15 (Reuters) Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Seve Ballesteros are among the great names on the World Match Play's roll of honour but there is little doubt it is Ernie Els who is king of Wentworth.

The player known as the 'Big Easy' took his record total of World Match Play titles to seven when he strolled to a 6 and 4 win over Argentina's Angel Cabrera Yesterday.

''I played my best today but it wasn't enough because Ernie played very well,'' Cabrera told reporters. ''He is the king of Wentworth.

''He lives here, he knows the course and it is his backyard so he is very comfortable and happy here,'' added the U.S. Open champion.

Els, though, struggled to take it all in.

''To win a prestigious tournament like this seven times is wonderful,'' said the popular South African, gazing at the trophy. ''I'm just looking at all the names who have won it and there's a very international flavour to this tournament.

''I have always been a fan of this kind of match play (over 36 holes) because you've got to play well all day long to beat your opponent.'' However, in spite of his stunning achievements on the tree-lined West Course in leafy Surrey, it is the four major championships that continue to dominate the thoughts of the 37-year-old Els.

''The majors stand on their own...and I started to think about the US Masters (next April) as soon as we finished the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills (in August),'' said the Wentworth-based South African.

''I had a good major there (finishing third) and you know, right there I started thinking about getting my game together for the Masters.'' Els, who triumphed at the US Open in 1994 and 1997 and won the 2002 British Open, was unable to add to his three major victories in 2007.

''This year has been a weird year,'' he said. ''I changed equipment in the first quarter and I've had to get used to different clubs.

''Obviously (though) if I can play the way I did at Wentworth I am getting very comfortable with my equipment. Next year I don't think I'm going to make major changes and I can just play golf.'' REUTERS TB RK1414

Story first published: Monday, October 15, 2007, 14:34 [IST]
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