Els eager to end 107-year Open record

Two-time Open champion, Ernie Els, has revealed his eagerness to become the first player in 107 years to successfully defend a Muirfield Open Championship.

Els won the 2002 Open the last time it was staged at Muirfield whereas it was the legendary James Braid who was the last player to win back-to-back Muirfield Opens.

Ernie Els Ernie Els (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Braid won the first of his five Open Championships in 1901 at Muirfield and then won again, and his third success, when the Open returned to Muirfield in 1906.

And while Els first focuses on this week’s 25th anniversary BMW International Open the South African revealed his intentions to make a number of trips to Muirfield in coming weeks to so that he can match Braid’s record.

“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing I will be going to Muirfield as the current Open Champion and winner of the last Open at Muirfield,” said Els.

“I’m off up to Muirfield after this tournament and will check it out a few times in coming weeks as I want to do my homework and stay sharp.

“We then have a big stretch coming up from The Open what with the Bridgestone and the PGA at Oak Hill.

“But I can’t wait to get to Muirfield.”

Els is returning to competition at this week’s 25th anniversary BMW International Open in Munich.

And after one over par was the winning score last week at Merion, Els is looking forward to a tournament where 27-under par is the record winning score, and set in 2001 by fellow British Open winner, John Daly.

“It’s going to be a relief coming to a course that yields so many birdies compared to a course like Merion,” said Els.

“But then you still have to hit the shots, and it is a golf course that is not going to lie over and die for you.

“In saying that, I will be trying to shoot a 66 each day and stay relevant, so the pressure will be on to get off to a good start.”

Joining Els in Munich is Spain’s Sergio Garcia, and at No. 15 the highest world ranked player in the Euro 2m event, along with visiting American Dustin Johnson and former champion and German hero, Martin Kaymer.