Just as Els was finishing his day at Augusta National, a pitch shot away Rory McIlroy was teeing off for the final round. One lucky person plucked just such a jacket from neglect back in 1994, and this weekend that keen eye paid off handsomely.
Four-time major victor Els is not ruling out playing in Georgia again but admits it wouldn't be the end of the world if last week was his final hurrah. Els' emotions ran more to disappointment at his performance than a melodramatic stroll down memory lane. He closed the 81st staging of this event with a 78.
"It's nice not to see people Tindering or playing on Facebook", said Kris Aylett, who lives in Augusta. "One man's ecstasy", said Els, "is another man's agony". The firm has put unique golf and Masters items up for bid for more than a decade, including the entrance sign to the club previous year. "Having a chance to win it a couple of times was special, and this tournament was just not for me", he said. "I just didn't have anything". Mickelson said earlier this week that he felt Els "still had a lot of game in him" and could yet win here.More news: Pence says working with allies to put pressure on North Korea
He went right back to the start when asked to pick out some of his highlights. "I've had a great time here". It was really one of the great battles in my career. He played with two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw in one round and that year's victor, Jose Maria Olazabal, in another. So that was a great time. "That's definitely the thing that helped me for Oakmont, because Oakmont has very similar slopes, similar speed, and I loved putting at Oakmont". Somewhere (Saturday), I was able to fight through that from hitting the ball down, making some good key putts. He's kind of an Augusta specialist He said how many times I was going to win it. The guys in the locker room are still the same guys and the members I've met here through the years are the same people and they run an awesome event. And the birdie on 15 was the only one on the back side on what was the tournament's easiest scoring day. "And I was two yards in the rough so many times today and it makes a huge difference on controlling the distance out of the rough".
He has not quite given up hope of finding a way to play the Masters again, saying: "I'm 48 this year". "It's obviously not totally out of the picture".
Playing alongside marker Jeff Knox, Els took his leave with a score of 20-over par. Some of the patrons appreciated he might not be back here and rose to their feet as they applauded. Now, he says he's been "trying to look around" as he plays, "just in case this is the last one". And I don't really feel that emotional, I think, just because of my play. I think I used to put too much pressure on myself around Augusta. And playing the tournament again and playing four rounds was the positive. "My play was atrocious and that's the hard part to take".