The first major championship of the season is a lot of things to a lot of people.
The sights and sounds of Augusta National are an annual rite to Spring for most of the golf public in the United States who are only starting to shake off the frost and cold of winter, but for four-time major champion Ernie Els the tones of the Masters piano music haunts him.
Despite some solid play early in 2019, Els is ranked 359th in the world and will likely not be in the field at this year’s Masters.
Speaking with The New York Post’s Mark Canizarro, Els explained why he won’t be upset to take a week off in early April.
“It was a f—ing nightmare for the most part.”
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) March 10, 2019
“To be honest with you, I won’t miss the place,’’ Els said. “I had enough of it — especially the last five years I played it terribly.
“When a thing stings you it keeps stinging you. When it gives to you it keeps on giving. I’ve seen that with Gary Player. I’ve seen it with Jack (Nicklaus). I’ve got a love-hate relationship with the place. It was always almost like a curse to me. It was not a romantic deal to me. It was a f–king nightmare for the most part.
“Then you start disliking the place when you shouldn’t. I try to keep my honor for the golf course and the people, because the members are great and the course is actually great. But it just doesn’t want to give me anything and then I was finally like, ‘You know what? That’s fine. Let’s move on.’”
Els had a run in the early 2000s where he had a chance to become an Augusta legend. Instead, he finished inside the top-10 from 2000-2004, bookended by a pair of solo second place finishes behind Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, respectively.
In recent years, Els hasn’t had near the success he enjoyed earlier in his career, missing the cut in 2013 and 2016. He finished in 53rd place in 2017, which is likely to be his last-ever start at Augusta National.