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While Ernie Els hasn’t seen Tiger Woods in a while, he has a pretty good idea of what the world’s #1 player is going through. The Big Easy ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament when his body twisted on the knee while on a sailing holiday with his family in the Mediterranean in 2005. He went on to have a reconstructive surgery, which replaced the ruptured ACL with tendons from Els' hamstrings to restore the knee's rotational stability.
“I had exactly the same surgery as him, and, you know, he's probably doing the right thing,” Els said. “You know, your left knee is very important in the golf swing, and I mean, I still felt it at least a year, a year and a half after the surgery. So it's something that's major. He can probably come back earlier, but knowing Tiger, he wants to be 100%. I think when he feels comfortable, he'll come back, and whether that's next year or the middle of next year or by the Masters; who knows, maybe he feels like playing at the Masters, I don't know.”
Els added his own perspective of what he went through. “I was very stubborn. I wanted to come back as soon as possible. It was very painful, but you know, I wanted to get back, and I set a date for me of Sun City and that was definitely too early. The doctors down there saw my knee and thought I was crazy to play, it was so swollen,” he said. “ My doctor told me that I couldn't do anymore damage to my knee -- the tendon was a good surgery. That was what I wanted to do. Obviously Tiger is a little different.”
The South African added he didn’t let on to the media he was hurting and it was quite a while later that he started to truly recover. “Well, every time you asked me about my knee, I said it was fine, but it wasn't. I think at Hoylake 2006 was finally when I felt I was getting over it. Because again, the weather was nice and warm, and whenever the weather was warm, I would feel comfortable, but whenever it got cold, it was horrible. So I would say about the summer of 2006, I was getting over it. That was a year into it.”