ERNIE ELS remembered his nine-year-old autistic son Ben and former South African president Nelson Mandela as he celebrated his Open triumph.
Els spoke with the Claret Jug alongside him while arrangements were being made for a helicopter flight back to London to see his family – a big change from 12 days earlier, when he flew on Easyjet to the Scottish Open.
“I made a lot of putts today with Ben in mind because I know Ben’s watching,” the 42-year-old South African said.
“He loves it when I hit golf balls – he’s always there. He comes with me. He loves the flight of the ball and the sound.
“I know he was watching today. He gets really excited and I wanted to keep him excited today, so I made a lot of putts for him.”
Asked what he would say when they got back together at their Wentworth home Els, who will be playing in the Canadian Open later this week, replied: “I don’t think I’ll need to say anything.
“He’s got his sayings and he’ll be happy. And obviously (daughter) Samantha will be there right next to him and (wife) Liezl. It’s going to be a great time to see them.
“Ben’s coming through now nicely. He’s a wonderful boy now and he’s a bright boy, so we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Since revealing Ben’s condition four years ago the Els family have put all their energies into fund-raising and are hoping to open a multi-million pound centre in Florida in the near future.