Ernie Els: Wentworth is ready after all the complaints - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Ernie Els: Wentworth is ready after all the complaints

Two years on from the controversy, redesign is 'pretty much there' ahead of PGA Championship

Wentworth

The sun was a welcome presence as Wentworth opened its doors to the British sporting summer, in the shape of tomorrow's BMW PGA Championship. Yet it was Ernie Els with a smile wider than the 18th green on the famous Surrey course that spread the greater warmth across the European Tour's flagship event.

The changes wrought two years ago by Els on the West Course, the Harry Colt masterpiece that laid the template for golfing real estate across the globe, has invited ridicule and wrath by the digger load. Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood all piled in. They've taken the fun out of the place, raged Poulter. Westwood's expressed views when he spun his ball into the water after a risk-reward approach on the 18th, in the play-off he lost to Luke Donald last year, would make Roy "Chubby" Brown blush.

"You make changes on a great golf course like the West course, you know people are not going to like it. You are not going to please everybody, but I don't believe they should criticise just because changes were made," Els said.

"We like to criticise as players. This is our job, we take it seriously. I could see where they were coming from. Last year was better. The first year I didn't enjoy it much. But I don't think we will be getting many complaints this year. We are pretty much there."

The 12th was a monster par-four last year, but now reverts to a par-five. The 15th has had a bank removed at the front of the green, while a fringe is added at the 17th to prevent the ball galloping down the bank to the right.

As for the finishing hole, it has had its balance restored. A bunker has been removed down the right, the fairway raised and the collar around the green substantially enhanced. That ought to please Westwood.

"Spinning it into the water wasn't the plan. I think he knew he needed to drive at the flag. He did pitch it left of the flag but there was no collar. I think it had died away in the good weather. I always felt something unfortunate could happen. Unfortunately it happened to Lee. That shouldn't happen this year."

The joke about famous Belgians got another airing yesterday with the appearance of Nicolas Colsaerts, some £566,000 richer following Sunday's World Match Play triumph in Spain but still an anonymous figure at home.

Colsaerts' victory over Graeme McDowell thrust him on to the red carpet at Wentworth. The 29-year-old Belgian is an articulate and popular presence on the tour, and imparts athletic violence on a golf ball like few ever have. In the past 18 months, though, he has come to understand better the mysteries of this game.

He is being groomed for the higher stage. His first appointment here was with the Ryder Cup outfitters, a special tailoring service rolled out for those in line for selection at Medinah in September. Crashing the world's top 50 is a badge of honour, filling one of the 10 automatic Ryder Cup spots is a leap.

"I think I look good in a suit. There was a nice atmosphere in there. It is a special moment when you feel that you are considered," he said. But what will it mean for the Belgian celebrity count? "We have a bunch of world No 1s in table tennis, and we have always been pretty good at cycling, people like Eddy Merckx – but I don't think my CV is anywhere near any of those guys."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week