Els homes in on £1m and title No 7

Tiger Woods, winner of his last five tournaments, is sure to draw the biggest crowd as the battle for golf's biggest cheque starts at Wentworth today. But Ernie Els wants to remind everybody who has been the dominant figure at the World Match Play Championship over the past 12 years.

Seven of the 16-strong field - five Europeans and the Americans Woods and Jim Furyk, the top two in the world - are looking for the £1m first prize as preparation for next week's Ryder Cup. Els, though, simply wants to taste success again nine months into a year where there has been none.

Sunday will do - especially if it follows a semi-final victory over the world No 1 the previous day. The 36-year-old South African was unable to defend the title last year because of the knee surgery he had undergone following his sailing accident during the summer. But now he is back, only as the sixth seed, but as the man who has lifted the trophy a record six times.

Els has a terrible record in the sport's other Match Play tournament - the one in California each February - but he has won 22 of his 26 games over the West Course since making his debut as US Open champion in 1994.

Woods was not even on the scene then, of course, and Els set a record of 11 victories in a row before he lost the 1997 final to Vijay Singh. If he beats Angel Cabrera in the opening round he will equal that record.

"I think 36-hole match play is different to 18-hole match play," he said. "You've got to play well for a much longer period of time and it gives you the best indication of who is the better player on the day.

"I've always enjoyed that. I've been behind quite a few times in the past and won some matches where I could never have in 18 holes.

"I think another factor is because I'm playing at home [Els lives on the Wentworth estate]. I obviously love sleeping in my own bed - it makes a big change from sleeping in a hotel room."

Colin Montgomerie, four times a winner on the course and hoping to stay on course for a fifth by beating David Howell in the opening round, made the same point, but caused some laughter the way he put it. "I look forward to this event. I stay in my own bed, which is a very rare thing nowadays," he said before quickly adding: "I didn't mean that that way. On my own, on my own."

Wentworth tee-off times

(seeded positions in brackets)

07.36 and 12.06 (1) Michael Campbell (NZ) v (16) Simon Khan (Eng)

07.48 and 12.18 (8) David Howell (Eng) v (9) Colin Montgomerie (Sco)

08.00 and 12.30 (5) Retief Goosen (SA) v (12) Paul Casey (Eng)

08.12 and 12.42 (4) Adam Scott (Aus) v (13) Mike Weir (Can)

08.24 and 12.54 (3) Jim Furyk (US) v (14) Robert Karlsson (Swe)

08.36 and 13.06 (6) Ernie Els (SA) v (11) Angel Cabrera (Arg)

08.48 and 13.18 (7) Luke Donald (Eng) v Tim Clark (SA)

09.00 and 13.30 (2) Tiger Woods (US) v (15) Shaun Micheel (US)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral