Els expects more Asian major winners soon

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Ernie Els believes Asia will soon produce another major champion, with Sangmoon Bae, Hideki Matsuyama and Anirban Lahiri as potential candidates.

The four-time major winner is particularly impressed with Lahiri's recent rise in the Official World Golf Rankings, after the Indian ace rose up to 35th in the world following two victories in February.

"Having played with Anirban a couple of years ago and been very impressed with his game, it was no surprise to see him win the title in Macau (Venetian Macau Open last October)," the South African told the Asian Tour.

"He's really pushed on from there, too, winning the Maybank Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open in a span of three weeks last month and rising in the Official World Golf Ranking. That comes with all sorts of perks, not least that he can now qualify for the International team for the Presidents Cup and also play in World Golf Championships events and the Majors.

"It's more than five years since Y.E. Yang (of Korea) claimed Asia's first Major (in 2009) but my view is it won't be that long again before someone from the Asian Tour wins another.

"There are so many good Asian players already winning on the PGA TOUR – guys like Sangmoon Bae, Hideki Matsuyama, Ryo Ishikawa and in addition, as I said, Anirban is playing some fantastic golf and getting a taste of golf on the world stage."

With youth on their sides, Els believes the current crop of Asian players will improve even more as they gain maturity and experience.

"These guys are young and they're hungry and they understand what it takes to win golf tournaments. They now have to kick-on and win Majors. At the same time, they have to remember that golf is a sport for a lifetime," the former world number one added.

Lahiri has been given an invitation to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club next month thanks to his world ranking and Els believes the seven-time Asian Tour winner will thrive at the famous Georgia course.

"I almost envy the likes of Anirban and all the others making their debut, because seeing Augusta National for the first time is an experience like nothing else," the player dubbed 'the Big Easy' added.

"The good thing is, that feeling doesn't ever wear thin. I've been going there for 20 years and still get a buzz driving up Magnolia Lane and seeing that famous old clubhouse.
"Winning a Green Jacket would obviously be a dream come true. I know what it takes to win majors and my game is good enough; that's what drives me to train and practise as hard as I still do."