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Ernie Els targets return in mid December

World number four Ernie Els, sidelined since July because of a knee injury, believes he is slightly ahead of schedule in his bid to make a competitive comeback in December.

The three-times major winner, out of action since twisting his knee on a family sailing holiday in the Mediterranean, has targeted the South African Open for his return to tournament golf.

"It's now exactly six weeks post-op and we're really stepping things up to the next level in terms of my physio and the exercises I'm allowed to do," said the 35-year-old South African.

"It's reached the point now where I can swing a golf club, which I'm told is pretty impressive at this stage of the rehab process.

"There's obviously a long way to go before my knee is properly recovered," Els added on his official website.

"But knowing we've got to the stage where we're gearing everything towards my golf swing feels like the next big hurdle has been jumped.

"It makes me feel like I'm that bit closer to being able to play golf again."

Els, who had initial surgery on July 28 before his anterior cruciate ligament was reconstructed on August 8, will make his comeback at The Links course at Fancourt from December 15-18 when he will chase a fourth South African Open title.

"Any sooner than that is probably not realistic, but I'm a little further down the road to recovery than I thought I'd be at this stage," he added.

The twice U.S. Open champion was bitterly disappointed to miss out on last week's Presidents Cup team competition at Lake Manassas, Virginia, where the Internationals lost to the U.S. by by 18-1/2 points to 15-1/2.

"It was frustrating not being able to play my part for the team," said Els, who played in the event in 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2003.

"I've loved being a part of the International team in past President's Cup matches.

"Here were two evenly matched teams playing fantastic golf all week, each player pushing the other and kind of bringing out the best in themselves.

"I thought it was a brilliant event with matches played in the spirit the game is meant to be played.

"It's a very competitive atmosphere and everyone desperately wants to win a point for their team, but no one went too far; everyone had respect for the game and for their opponent."


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