July 22, 2008–Ernie Els, the 5th-ranked player in the world, is heading to Las Vegas to work out some issues with his putter, the club that he says contributed to what he calls "A major of missed opportunities" in reference to last week's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Els will head to the Butch Harmon School of Golf located on the backend of the driving range of Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco Golf Club for some time with the world's number one golf instructor, Butch Harmon. These days, three of the top five players in the world (Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott are the other two) work with Harmon and have spent time at the school. "I’m going to try to find time to travel over to Las Vegas to spend a couple of days with my coach Butch Harmon," Els wrote in his weekly diary at ernieels.com. "Basically, I want to work on my short game and especially my putting to see if I can get it sharp. You know, these past couple of years I've tried different putters and different methods, but that hasn’t really worked out for me. I think it’s time to get back to basics. There's a method that worked for me in the past and I think I'll look to go back to that." Els finished in a tie for 7th at the Open.
"I was told … that I was one of only two players in the field to break par twice in this year’s Open (the other was the champion Padraig Harrington)," wrote Els. "On such a tough golf course, and in such brutal conditions, I guess shooting a pair of 69s says some positive things about my game. And it got me into a tie for seventh place. But driving away from Birkdale on Sunday night, this felt like a major of missed opportunities. And to be honest, that doesn’t feel good."
Els went on to write that he lost the Open when he fired a 45 on the back nine in the opening round in very difficult conditions.
The Butch Harmon School of Golf offers instruction to the highest level of pros but is also open to everyday players for golf schools and lessons. Other tour players who receive instruction at the school from Harmon or his other staff include Natalie Gulbis, Charley Hoffman, Stuart Cink, Nick Watney and many others.
"For the most part this has been a tough year so far, but I know when my short game returns to something like my old self then I’ll be challenging again for more tournament wins and major championships," Els wrote at the end of his diary.
Els formerly worked with the legendary David Leadbetter but made the move to Harmon recently.
And if and when he does win again, the Las Vegas golf world will be a 'major' part of the celebration.