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By Joel Beall
Ernie Els jumped in a time machine Thursday, firing a four-under 66 at PGA National. A score that was good enough for a T-2 at day’s end, and a performance that caught the attention of the Honda Classic field.
Especially the international players. For Els, who is turning 50 this fall, is set to lead the global team at the 2019 Presidents Cup. Given that Els’ American counterpart, Tiger Woods, has stated his intentions to serve as playing-captain, might the South African hold similar aspirations?
Well, not really, according to the Big Easy.
“Maybe if I magically find a lot of form, if I win another major, if I can win three more times, yeah, absolutely I’ll do it,” Els told the Golf Channel Thursday.
While a win this week would stoke the flames, it’s worth noting Els’ game over the past few years has not merited such considerations. The four-time major winner is currently No. 398 in the world rankings, hasn’t had a top 25 on tour since 2016 and last made the FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2014. His last win on any circuit was in 2013.
“It’s just not in the equation,” Els continued. “There’s so much to do, especially on my side of the captaincy. Tiger could be a little bit more comfortable doing it. He’s got a team of guys who have played Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups and who have been around it for many years.
“I can see doing it from their point of view, but, from my point of view, I have a lot of work to do. I have to educate the guys around the golf course, how it sets up, how to play it. There’s a lot of things on my mind. It would be a difficult decision.”
For what it’s worth, it sounds like Els’ own players wouldn’t be against his participation.
“Ernie played fantastic,” said Charl Schwartzel, a member of the past four Presidents Cup teams. “With the success he’s had at Royal Melbourne, he can pick himself, the way he’s playing.”
The 2019 Presidents Cup begins December 12 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the site of the only International win in the event’s 25-year history.