Ernie Els said on Wednesday Tiger Woods should forget about hiring a new coach after splitting with Sean Foley and could return to major-winning form on his own.
South African Els said Woods had never been the same since he stopped working with Butch Harmon in 2003, and that he didn’t like the direction he had taken under Hank Haney and then Foley.
But he said injury-hit Woods, far from looking at the embers of his career at 38, was still capable of returning to the very top of world golf at the expense of Rory McIlroy.
“I don’t think it’s the passing of the torch yet,” Els said during a phone conference ahead of October’s Venetian Macau Open, which he is headlining.
“Because I know where I am at 44, and Tiger’s not 40 yet so there’s still a lot of life left in the dog.”
Woods, the 14-time major-winner, ended his four-year association with Foley this week after cutting short a troubled season dominated by his recovery from back surgery.
Many wonder whether golf is seeing a power-shift from Woods, without a major win since 2008, to world number one McIlroy, who won this year’s British Open and PGA Championship.
But Els, who won his fourth major, the 2012 British Open, aged 42, said Woods could still challenge McIlroy if he returns to full health and gets back to basics with his game.
“He’s young enough, he’s strong enough. He’s had some really bad injuries to his tendons and to his back now, that’s not a great sign. But if he’s healthy, he’s shown that he can win,” said Els.