Golf: Els hoping for positive possible Masters swansong

Augusta has been an unhappy hunting ground for Ernie Els, something he hopes will change in what could be his final appearance in 2017.

Ernie Els is hoping for a positive end to his association with the Masters after coming so close to clinching a green jacket on a couple of occasions.

The South African has twice finished as runner-up at Augusta National and has another four top-10 finishes to his name since making his debut in 1994.

He has struggled to contend for the victory since 2004 when Phil Mickelson came roaring back to win with a long putt at the 18th, avoiding a play-off with Els.

Twelve months ago he failed to make the cut and the 47-year-old knows the 2017 tournament could be his final appearance at the prestigious event, so he wants to go out on a high.

"I've had 23 goes at it and had a great time," Els said, as quoted by augusta.com. "I'm not really looking at it as my last one, but if it is, it is.

"I've put a lot of energy into that event, and that's why after 23 times there I'm not really looking at going to win.

"I'm hoping to have a nice week, and if I can play the four rounds that'll be great and that'll be that. 

"A lot of guys have never had the opportunity to have a chance to win, and I've had a couple of chances to win. So I knew how that felt. It didn't quite go my way. I just want to have a good week."

It all looked like being so different for Els after he impressed on his debut in 1994 - finishing eighth - but it was just the first in a number of disappointments at the iconic venue.

"I think there'll always be a little bit of bitterness [at not winning]," Els added. "That's just the way it is. 

"I had such a great start to the event in 1994 and finishing eighth and finishing second in 2000 and '04 almost winning. Ever since then it's been kind of a tough road for me. But I'll always look back on it as one I always wanted to win and couldn't win.

"Certain players get really good breaks and fall in love with the place and just know if they hit it they've got a good chance of getting a good bounce. And those certain players have won one, two, three, four of them. They kind of figured it out.

"You can't tell me a bounce I don't know on the place, but for me I kind of got on the wrong side of it and momentum went kind of against me and that's that. 

"The Masters will always have a little bit of sting to it, but not in a bad way."

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