You wouldn’t bet against Els

Sam Torrance
Follow Sam
ERNIE ELS joked at Bay Hill this week that he might put 10 grand on himself to win the US Masters. The way he’s playing right now, I reckon he should double it – I certainly wouldn’t bet against him.

Ernie is playing out of his skin right now and has timed his impressive return to form perfectly with the start of the US Masters at Augusta next week where he will undoubtedly be the No1 challenger to the returning Tiger Woods.

His two-shot victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational yesterday came just three weeks after he won the WGC-CA Championship in Doral.

Bay Hill is probably the toughest course you’ll play all year, but Ernie proved he has his ‘A’ game very much switched on.

In terms of severity of shots, speed of the greens and the fact there is no respite, it’s similar to what they can expect in Augusta next weekend – and that’s clearly music to Ernie’s ears.

His chipping for the two great up-and-downs on the final two holes was fantastic and he looked as cool as a cucumber when playing the last, helped by a magnificent drive.

It was great also to see Eduardo Molinari hold out for second place – a result which will undoubtedly help his Ryder Cup chance by shooting him up the world rankings.

Despite Ernie’s back-to-back wins, Tiger still leads the betting for the Masters – and you really wouldn’t put it past the great man making an immediate winning return and claim a 15th Major title.

As for me, I enjoyed a second-place finish in the Berenberg Bank Masters in South Africa, although I’ve certainly got a new rival on the scene.

Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit shot a tremendous final round 67 to become the first player since Tommy Horton in 1997 to win three successive Senior Tour titles.

But for my horrific start which brought four dropped shots in three holes, it was a good week for me and puts me clear in second in the Order of Merit behind Boonchu.

I’ve got my work cut out if he plays any more.