Els at peace with Masters record

Two-time Masters runner-up Ernie Els will look back with fondness on his "special" career at Augusta, if Sunday's final round proves to be his last at the venue.

Weekend scores of 83 and 78 saw Els finish last in the opening major of 2017 as Sergio Garcia completed a dramatic victory.

With his five-year exemption for winning the 2012 Open Championship now over, Els will only play in the Masters again if he qualifies through his world ranking or a tournament victory.

That appears somewhat unlikely, the 48-year-old having slumped to 383rd in the rankings, but Els - second to Vijay Singh at Augusta in 2000 and Phil Mickelson four years later - is not too rueful over his failure to win the Masters.

"It was nice playing with these guys and playing the tournament again and playing four rounds, as I said, was the positive," said Els.

"The negative is just that my play was atrocious and that's the hard part to take. But if I look back at the 23, 24 years here, you know, how many professional golfers get the opportunity to play the Masters 23 times?

"Having a chance to win it a couple of times was special and this tournament is just not for me. I've won a lot of events around the world, but this one just eluded me and that's fine."

Els, who said "there's still obviously a chance" he will return to Augusta, reflected positively on his second near-miss 13 years ago, when he was edged out by Mickelson in a thrilling finale.

"I think 2004 was a really special Sunday for myself," added the South African. "And just being here, it's just a special feeling. The guys in the locker room are still the same guys and the members I've met here through the years are the same people and they run an amazing event.  So it's just been a special, special time.

"It's a place where you dream to get to once or twice.  And to do it for so long was great."


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