Ernie Els shot rounds of 83 and 78 over the weekend at Augusta – a rather inauspicious way to, in all likelihood, end your US Masters career

The End Of Ernie Els’ Masters Journey?

Ernie Els shot rounds of 83 and 78 over the weekend at Augusta National – a rather inauspicious way to, in all likelihood, end your US Masters career.

Els received a five-year exemption for winning the 2012 Open Championship at Royal St George’s and he’s currently ranked 410th in the world.

The only way for him to qualify again would be through a PGA Tour victory, which you have to concede seems very unlikely at this point. He hasn’t won a non-major event on that circuit since the 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I think there’s still obviously a chance [of coming back]. 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,” he said.

Asked to talk about some of his favourite memories over the years, he added:

“I think the very first time was very, very special in 1994.  I had a couple of really great groupings, I played with Ben Crenshaw that year, I played with Jose Maria in the third round that year, he went on to win. So, that was a great time.

“And then, obviously, the times I came close. I think 2004 was a really special Sunday for myself. And just being here, it’s just a special feeling. The guys in the locker room are still the same guys and the members I’ve met here through the years are the same people and they run an amazing event. So it’s just been a special, special time.”

“As I say, to have been a part of it for 23, 24 years is special. It’s a place where you dream to get to once or twice. And to do it for so long was great.”

You do sense the South African is resigned to never returning in a professional capacity. However, he didn’t rule out coming back as a visitor.

“I wouldn’t put it out of a possibility, maybe I’ll come back, yeah, why not, I might come back and say hi to the guys and check it out. It will be special.”

Els, Rory McIlroy and Lee Trevino are the only players to have won four Majors or more without landing the Masters title.

Attend The 2018 Masters with Your Golf Travel – visit  yourgolftravel.com/us-masters Experiences including flights, hotels & tickets are available. Nick Bonfield travelled to the 2017 Masters courtesy of Your Golf Travel.