By Bernie McGuire
NEWCASTLE, Northern Ireland (Reuters) - Four-time major winner Ernie Els feels his four testing rounds at the Irish Open have been the perfect preparation for next month’s U.S. Open, he told Reuters.
Els endured a trying time at the Royal County Down course in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, finishing on Sunday with a one-over-par 72 for a 10-over-par tally in bright but windy conditions.
The South African recorded one eagle and eight birdies but also 18 bogeys and a double bogey over the four in his first Irish Open appearance in 17 years.
Els will play in the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio next week before traveling to Washington State for the U.S. Open, which begins on June 18 at Chambers Bay.
"After four days here at Royal County Down, it will make Chambers Bay look like it’s on steroids," Els told Reuters.
"This course was tricky but then I hear Chambers Bay is really tricky and I’m glad I played here this week as this will have been great practice heading up there to Washington State.
"You’re going to get all those links type shots from uneven lies, putting in wind and sometimes rain, so this will be a great test for Chambers Bay even though most of the guys going there have never played the golf course...
“I’m sure when I get to Chambers Bay my links type game will be pretty sharp.
“So I think it will help me given most of the guys will be looking at playing four practice rounds, so I may be able to cut back on my practice schedule that week given what I felt I have gained in playing all four rounds this week."
Els is a twice winner of the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997.
(Editing by Toby Davis)