Els dreams of carrying South African flag at 2016 Olympics

Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:34pm EST
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By Tony Jimenez

(Reuters) - Ernie Els is dreaming of holding aloft the South African flag at the opening ceremony when golf returns to the Olympics in Brazil in 2016, he said at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The South African, who has won four major championships and more than 60 titles around the world, will be 46 when the sport returns to the Games fold in Rio de Janeiro following a 112-year absence.

"I would love to be on the team representing South Africa at the Olympics," said Els after finishing down the field in 39th position at the European Tour's season-ending event in the Middle East.

"If it comes off it would be the extra special bit of icing on my career. Presently there's really no opportunity other than the World Cup for a South African golfer to directly represent his country.

"It would be unbelievable to be part of the team. If I qualify, and I hope I do because when next year comes around that will become a burning goal of mine, I may even allow myself the thought of carrying the South African flag into the stadium."

Els has struggled to make an impact on the world stage this year, slipping from 27th to 57th in the rankings after failing to win on the European Tour or U.S. PGA Tour.

Sixty players will line up in both the men's and women's 72-hole strokeplay tournaments in Brazil.

Golfers in the top 15 of the rankings will automatically be eligible although no more than four players from any one country can compete.   Continued...

Ernie Els of South Africa tees off on the third hole during the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai November 7, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song