WHERE TO CELEBRATE: After winning the British Open on Sunday, Ernie Els has four homes he could go to rest and recuperate after his celebration. We're not sure where he went, but it makes sense that he took the hourlong flight from Muirfield to London, where he owns a home in the suburb of Wentworth. He and his wife, Leizl, who is six months' pregnant with the couple's second child, stayed there this week. But Els also has a home in Johannesburg in his native South Africa, and he lives a good part of the year at Lake Nona in Orlando. Just in case he gets bored with any of those places, he has another place in the Bahamas.
MENTAL COACH: If a golfer needs a talking to before a playoff, Jos Vanstiphout is the man. Last year, after Retief Goosen three-putted the 72nd hole from 12 feet to drop into a playoff at the U.S. Open, it was Vanstiphout, a Belgian sports psychologist, who helped him through the anguish. The next day, Goosen defeated Mark Brooks in an 18-hole playoff. On Sunday, Els was despondent after failing to win the Open Championship in regulation. He squandered a three-shot lead on the back nine. So there was Vanstiphout again to offer some words of wisdom before the aggregate playoff.
In fact, Vanstiphout has been working hard to get Els to believe he is worthy of his No. 3 world ranking and capable of challenging No. 1 Tiger Woods.
"Like 80 or 90 percent of the players out there, he had to get rid of his Tiger Woods-itis," Vanstiphout said. "The players just hear Woods, Woods, Woods, but with all respect, he's not God.
"Ernie has always had the swing, but now we've got him back to the right mental level again. Now he can start to compete, not just in every major but in every tournament."
TWO TWO-BALLS?: Even the participants were a bit surprised to go off in twosomes (the Brits call it a two-ball) for the aggregate playoff at the Open between Els, Thomas Levet, Steve Elkington and Stuart Appleby. For one thing, a major championship had never seen a four-man playoff. And in a sudden-death playoff, the participants would have to play together for fairness' sake, regardless of the number of players. But Open officials went with the format because of pace of play, crowd control and the fact that it was not sudden-death, but aggregate stroke play.
_ Compiled by Bob Harig.