Els backs Scott to bounce back
Ernie Els is backing Adam Scott to bounce back from his Royal Lytham heartbreak - the biggest Open meltdown since Jean Van de Velde in 1999.
While Els could not wait to see his family at their Wentworth home after ending a decade of torment in the majors himself, the 32-year-old Australian was trying to come to terms with bogeying the last four holes to lose by one.
But golf's "Big Easy", who now has two Claret Jugs to sit alongside his two US Opens, is predicting big things from his Presidents Cup team-mate.
"I've been there," said Els, visibly shocked that his closing 15-foot birdie putt had won him the title again after he had been six behind at the turn and still four back entering the closing stretch.
"I've blown majors before and golf tournaments before and I just hope he doesn't take it as hard as I did.
"I feel for him - I've been on the other end more times than I've actually been on the winning end and it's not a good feeling.
"But thankfully he's young enough. He's got the next 10 years. I've won four now - I think he can win more than that."
However much inner turmoil Scott is experiencing, he is a good enough friend of the Els family to understand that the final outcome, crushing though it was for him, would have brought incredible joy for them - especially their nine-year-old son Ben.
Following the diagnosis of autism three years ago Els and his wife Liezl moved their main base from Surrey to Florida and have been working tirelessly ever since.
They have already raised £6million, have put in £4million themselves and bought the land for a Centre of Excellence that is expected to open next year and will give children around the world access to the best education and therapy available. The goal is to
raise £20million in all.
"I made a lot of putts today with Ben in mind because I know he's watching," said Els movingly.
"He loves when I hit golf balls. He's always there. He loves the flight of the ball and the sound.
"He gets really excited and I wanted to keep him excited, so I made a lot of putts for him.
"He'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."
Before Els went public with his son's condition a lot of people had noticed a change in his own character - understandably so - that appeared to be affecting his golf.
But he has become a player with a cause and now, having come to terms with what can be done for Ben and for all sufferers, he describes it as "not such a huge distraction maybe".
The former world number one fell out of the top 50 and failed to qualify for The Masters in April, a real blow to his pride given that he had played every one from his debut in 1994 and had twice finished runner-up.
The same happened to American star Tom Kite in 1992 and he won the very next major. Els has taken two to hit back and, as a result, will be at the next five Masters.
One suspects the 42-year-old - same age as last year's winner Darren Clarke - would like to shove that in the face of those he felt were writing him off earlier this season when some terrible putting cost him dearly.
"When you've been where I was you have no confidence in putting - you don't want to have that one coming back," he said.
"Obviously in March I looked like an absolute fool. People were laughing at me and making jokes about me and really hitting me low, saying I'm done and I should hang it up.
"So to come through and make a putt like that and make pressure putts on the back nine (he came home in 32) that was the whole goal."
He will be the defending champion next summer at Muirfield, scene of his 2002 victory, and one suspects he will not be travelling there by Easyjet - as he did to the Scottish Open a fortnight ago.
Scott, meanwhile, has to think more short-term - to his defence of the Bridgestone world championship in Ohio next week and then the USPGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina a week later.
"Hopefully I can let it go really quick and get on with what I plan to do," he said. "I'm sure there will be a next time and I'm sure I can do a better job of it."
He failed to get up and down from a bunker on the 15th, three-putted the 16th, pulled his approach to the 17th into thick rough - just after hearing the roar for Els's closing putt - and then drove into more sand off the final tee.
Even then there was a chance for him to force a play-off, but his eight-foot par attempt missed on the left and he was left to ponder where it all went so horribly wrong.
It was not as bad as Van de Velde being three ahead with one to play at Carnoustie, triple-bogeying and losing a play-off. But it was bad enough.