Ernie Els Wraps Up a Productive Year With a Convincing 6-Stroke Victory
The 1994 season was a memorable one for The Big Easy Ernie Els in which he won his first major championship, The U.S. Open. Not only was it his first major, it was also his first PGA win…what a way to break on through. He put all wonderers at ease when he capped off the end of the year with this impressive six stroke victory. He triumphed over an elite field of 24 players with $2.5 million at stake and paired with Nick Price, the No. 1-ranked player in the world. He closed with a 69 for a 16-under-par total of 268, six strokes better than Nick Faldo and Mark McCumber.
The victory, worth $550,000 to Els, put an end to one of the most successful seasons money wise. Financially, Els had a record year. In 35 events on five continents, he won five tournaments and $2.88 million. That is roughly $400,000 more than Price won last year. He had 16 finishes in the top five and 19 in the top 10.
“It was a great win and a great year,” said Els, the strapping South African. “This really does a lot for my confidence. But I think I can reach a higher level. I’m a long way from being the No. 1 player in the world.”
After the victory, Els sat at the No. 6 player in the world in the Sony rankings. Fast-forward the clock a year ahead and Els would sit in the No. 4 position at the end of 1995.
The Big Easy
At 6 feet 4 inches and 230 pounds, Els could pass for a lean outside linebacker or maybe a smallish tight end. But on the golf course, he is a giant, dwarfing fellow competitors with his stature and, more and more frequently, with his game as well. He has always had a frighteningly complete game, one that features a beautiful, fluid and unchanging tempo. When he is on, his rhythm remains the same, whether he’s swinging a driver or a wedge.