Tiger or not, Sergio, Els like their chances

Tiger or not, Sergio, Els like their chances

Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 9:12 pm
By: AP

By PAUL NEWBERRY AP National Writer SOUTHPORT, England (AP) — Sergio Garcia is from Spain. Ernie Els hails from South Africa. Both feel right at home on the western coast of England. Even before Tiger Woods had to call it a year to have more surgery on his ailing knee, Garcia and Els would have liked their chances at a course such as Royal Birkdale, with all those odd bumps, that howling wind off the Irish Sea, the ominous clouds hanging overhead in seeming perpetuity. The site of this year’s British Open is the sort of place where they learned the game, honing their swings and accepting that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to hit a grounder from the middle of the fairway. Garcia got his first sampling of it as a junior golfer, playing for Spain against a team from Britain. He was 12 years old, 13 perhaps, and he fell in love with all the nuances and creativity. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play a lot of links courses, a lot of links golf, and I love it,” Garcia said Tuesday. “It’s different, and it brings so many different parts of the game … with a lot of imagination. It’s always good when you get challenged on the course.” Els developed a similar kinship with this style of golf, so different from the aim-and-fire brand common on the PGA Tour with its perfectly manicured courses, smooth landing areas and doses of foul weather. The Big Easy has extensive experience on the European Tour. On this side of the Atlantic, he knows surviving can be more critical than hitting pretty shots. “I think players like Sergio, like myself, feel very comfortable in this event more than any other,” the 38-year-old Els said. “It’s just because of the style of play, the style of golf courses, the layouts. I’ve played it since I was a teenager.” While some players might feel they have a better chance to shine with Woods watching from his couch back in the U.S., both Els and Garcia sincerely believe they would have stacked up just fine with the world’s greatest player this week. “I feel I’m on a much better level with Tiger in this kind of environment than say at the Masters or the PGA,” Els said Published in The Messenger 7.16.08

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