Tour Report: No. 20: Ernie Els

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To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here.


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2013 PREVIEW: Ernie Els will be seeking his 20th victory on the PGA TOUR in 2013, a number that would assure the affable South African of a lifetime membership. Here’s the intriguing quesion: Can the four-time major champion — who became the first male World Golf Hall of Famer in 18 years to win a major after his induction when he captured the British Open last summer — branch out in 2013 and add the third or fourth leg of the career Grand Slam to his fine resume?

2012 DEFINING MOMENT: This one is easy. Els, who was on the comeback trail of sorts after finishing a career-low 67th in the FedExCup and 93rd on the money list in 2011, had already posted one runner-up finish when he came to Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He started the final round six strokes behind Adam Scott but closed with a brilliant 68 that included a phenomenal 32 on the homeward nine and won when the Aussie bogeyed his final four holes. Els’ second Claret Jug came 10 years after his first. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Ernie still possesses the buttery tempo he had in his 20s. That tempo helped him win the British Open. I wonder if that’s the last “hurrah” of his career or a springboard for more greatness. Els told me at the Accenture Match Play Championship that he was putting so well with the long putter, he might go back to conventional. — Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio

BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: His days of an automatic first-round pick are long gone, but there’s enough fuel in his tank to still carry a team. His victory at the British Open aside, what impressed me most was that he made a career-high 22 starts in 2012. Sure, he tailed a bit after posing with the Claret Jug, but he picked off a co-runner-up at the HSBC Champions in November to quell our concern. And if you wanted to lean on one factor inside the ropes as to why he became relevant again, he improved an incredible 9.99 percent in scrambling as compared to 2011. For most guys, that doesn’t even represent the endpoints for a career, much less a one-year shift. Of course, The Big Easy owns a legendary short game, so it was more of a return to form than anything else. To prepare realistically, now that he’s 43, let him slide to the third round. — Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert

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2012 QUICK REVIEW

Regular Season ranking
11th

Final Playoffs ranking
26th

Best finishes 1st British Open
By the Numbers
Starts: 22
Cuts made: 19
Rounds played: 78
Top-10 finishes: 5
Money List rank: 16th
TOUR ranking
Driving distance: 51st
Driving accuracy: 155th
Greens in regulation: 53rd
Strokes gained-putting: 112th
Scoring average: 25th

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