Ernie Els lost ‘camaraderie’ with fellow South Africans who joined LIV Golf
Ernie Els is a South African legend, with the four-time major champion serving as a leading golf ambassador in his native country.
During his long career — which included 74 professional wins and an induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011 — Els has been a helpful resource to aspiring South African golfers. Players like Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen all received brotherly-like treatment from Els as they transitioned to life on the PGA Tour.
But neither Schwartzel, nor Grace, nor Oosthuizen play on the PGA Tour anymore, with all three making the jump to LIV Golf. That has caused a bit of friction between the trio and Els, who told the Palm Beach Post last week that while he’s “made peace” with their choices, his relationship with each player has changed.
“We’ve lost that camaraderie, definitely,” he said. “I’m still friends with them but it’s different.”
While Els said he understands each player’s decision to join LIV, he also said he wishes the three had confided in him before joining the new league.
“I was disappointed they never asked me my opinion,” he said. “I had them in the foundation (in South Africa), looked after them as youngsters. They flew with me, they stayed at my house. Kind of nurtured them to get onto the PGA Tour. It just was done in a way I didn’t like.”
Els added he has “not seen one golf shot” of any of the players since they joined LIV. In the past, he said that he did his best to watch each of them play, but no longer.
As for Els’ overall sentiment about LIV, he didn’t mince words, telling the Palm Beach Post, “They have gone about it the wrong way, and they’ve really upended a lot of good the game stands for… the whole thing just doesn’t sit right.”
While Els did say he was approached by LIV in the developmental phase, ultimately the new tour decided to go against his suggestions — which included the idea of partnering with fellow leagues like the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.
“We can play around the world and play team golf and get some television network that will buy it and come back to your respective tours and get on with life,” Els said to told LIV officials. “They didn’t see it that way and they basically showed me the door early on.”