Theodore Ernest “Ernie” Els (/ˈɛls/; born 17 October 1969) is a South African professional golfer. A former World No. 1, he is known as “The Big Easy” due to his imposing physical stature (he stands 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)) along with his fluid golf swing. Among his 66 career victories are four major championships: the U.S. Open in 1994 at Oakmont and in 1997 at Congressional, and The Open Championship in 2002 at Muirfield and in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St Annes. He is one of six golfers to twice win both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship.
Other highlights in Els’ career include topping the 2003 and 2004 European Tour Order of Merit (money list), and winning the World Match Play Championship a record seven times. He was the leading career money winner on the European Tour until overtaken by Lee Westwood in 2011, and was the first member of the tour to earn over 25 million Euros from European Tour events. He has held the number one spot in the Official World Golf Ranking and until 2013 held the record for weeks ranked in the top ten with 788. Els rose to 15th in the world rankings after winning the 2012 Open Championship. He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2010, on his first time on the ballot, and was inducted in May 2011.
When not playing, Els has a golf course design business, a charitable foundation which supports golf among underprivileged youngsters in South Africa, and a highly regarded wine-making business. He has written a popular golf instructional column in Golf Digest magazine for several years.