Els: I'm getting there
Ernie Els wants to present a more consistent challenge to the supremacy of Tiger Woods.
By Michael Wise
Last Updated: 13/08/07 1:10pm
After another strong, but not strong enough, finish in a major championship, Ernie Els wants to present a more consistent challenge to the supremacy of Tiger Woods.
The South African fired a final-round four-under-par 66 in the US PGA Championship to finish in third place behind the world number one and Woody Austin.
Els started the final round six strokes off Woods' pace, but nevertheless briefly moved to within one of the lead on the back nine.
But the charge misfired with a bogey at the par-four 16th - a Woods birdie at the previous hole also contributing to the eventual three-stroke deficit.
Els' Sunday charge came after a similar showing at last month's Open, where, after briefly threatening, he eventually settled for joint fourth.
And the 37-year-old remains hopeful that similar performances, offered across all four rounds, will enable him to take the fight to Woods.
"I'm not quite where I want to be but I'm getting there," Els said.
"I've played two good majors this year but to come from six back against the world number one was always going to be tough.
"The way I played and the way I played at the Open the final day, that's the way I want to play major championships."
Els claimed that, but for missed birdie putts at the ninth and 11th plus a poor drive at the 16th, he would have played a "perfect round".
"I hit a very poor putt on nine," he continued. "I was a bit tentative down the hill, hit it too soft.
"On 11, I just hit that one too firm. I wanted to be positive but it was a tough left-to-right breaker.
"And then on 16, it was just a bad swing. I was trying to hit a hard cut off the bunker and I didn't quite finish my backswing and flipped it a little.
"Those three shots cost me. If I could have those three back, it would have been a perfect round."
Top of the world
With Els' form suffering a setback after an injury to his left knee over two years ago, the 2002 Open remains his last major triumph.
Nevertheless, after stating last October that he wants to reclaim the top spot in the world rankings within three years, he remains hopeful of offering Woods future food for thought.
"I knew it wasn't going to happen overnight," added Els, who was world number one for nine weeks in the late 1990s. "I want to play this type of golf day in and day out in majors.
"If I can get to this next level, maybe I can at least give [Woods] a real run for his money because somebody needs to step up."