Ernie Els will be competing for his third US Open championship starting June 17 at Pebble Beach. As the seventh-ranked player in the world, he is a viable candidate to join an elite club of men who have won three US Opens.
Els made his mark early on the US Open. His first tournament came in 1993 and he finished in a tie for seventh. The following year, Els played the starring role in a dramatic US Open at Oakmount Country Club in Pennsylvania. After 72 holes, Els was tied for the lead with Loren Roberts and Colin Montgomerie for the lead. The subsequent 18-hole playoff ended in a tie between Roberts and Els with Montgomerie being eliminated. Els then defeated Roberts on the second sudden death hole, which was the 92nd hole of the tournament.
After missing the half-way cut in 1995, Els returned to the top five of the US Open in 1996 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan. He finished at plus one and tied for fifth place with Jim Furyk. They were three strokes behind winner Steve Jones.
Els would capture his second US Open championship (and second major) the following year. The 1997 US Open was held at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. After an opening-round score of 71, Els went on to post scores of 67, 69, and 69 in the final three rounds to put him at four under par for the tournament. Colin Montgomerie again finished right behind Els at three under par.
Since his 1997 win, Els has had moderate success at the US Open (2nd in 2000, 5th in 2003) but has yet to win another one. Whether the 40-year-old veteran can win another US Open 13 years removed from his last one will be an interesting subplot going into the 2010 US Open.