The Big Easy is hot right now.
Ernie Els’ latest victory at the BMW International Open has entrenched his status as a distinguished golfer on the European Tour.
The Big Easy shot a final-round 69 to finish 18-under, beating Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn by a stroke, to win the tournament at the Eichenried Golf Club in Munich, Germany, last Sunday.
By lifting the trophy, the 43-year-old South African has shot back into the top 15 in the world rankings.
He is also the oldest player to win the BMW event, which also marks his maiden European Tour victory in Germany.
Els’ latest feat makes him special in that he has been able to break a unique record set by Zimbabwean-born Irishman Mark McNulty, who won the same event at the age of 40 in 1994.
McNulty is now 59 and campaigns in the PGA Champions Tour, which features senior players.
Veteran Spanish idol Miguel Ángel Jiménez captured the title in 2004 when he was also 40. He is now 49.
A look at the Big Easy’s record on the tour shows that he is the only accomplished South African player in Europe.
His latest win brings to an enviable 28 his European Tour achievements in 282 European Tour events – an achievement not matched by any of his compatriots.
With his win in Europe, Els’ earnings have been greatly bolstered.
His latest victory has earned him €334 000 (R4.3 million).
Els, who has ploughed back to golf development through his successful Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, has amassed more than €29 million in European Tour official career earnings.
As the British Open defending champion – his fourth major in an illustrious career – Els is working hard to prepare for a successful defence when the event tees off at Muirfield Golf Links in Edinburgh, Scotland, from July 18 to July 21.
He won the tournament at the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club last year in Lancashire, England – 10 years after capturing it at Muirfield.
There’s no doubt that the Big Easy is simply on fire.
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