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Crowded calendar a 'mess' for Els

For all the miles he has flown and all the trophies he has won on the six major tours around the globe, Ernie Els would seem to be the biggest supporter of a move toward a world golf tour.

Far from it.

"I hope not, because it won't work," he said. "The egos won't let it work."

Els wasn't referring to players demanding appearance money or expecting to be otherwise pampered. His angst is aimed at administrators who seem to be tripping over themselves to stake out territories, not to mention weeks on the calendar.

As he walked out of the Kapalua clubhouse at the start of the season and looked ahead to the end of the year, Els shook his head and said, "It's going to be a mess." A week later, he found out just how messy.

The Sunshine Tour announced over the weekend that the South African Open will be played Nov. 17-20 "as a result of the congestion on the worldwide golfing calendar."

There's just one problem.

Not only is Els very much South African, he is the defending champion and a five-time winner of his national open. The date change means the South African Open will be held the same week as the Presidents Cup in Australia. Els is the premier global player of his generation, yet even he hasn't figured out how to be two places at once.

And right now, he's not sure which one to play.

Would he skip the Presidents Cup to defend his title in South Africa? His body language -- an angry stare and raised eyebrows -- suggested he is seriously thinking about it.

"It doesn't make sense," Els said. "This is my national open. I don't get a chance to play there often."

Els realizes there are no easy solutions.

He might not be as frustrated had he been involved in the discussions, and the Big Easy should have been shown that courtesy given his worldwide support. At a time when the PGA Tour is asking its top players to add events, Els has been doing that for years. He was on the verge of playing New Orleans this year until a conflict in Asia arose.

And part of the frustration is feeling as though he has been burned before.

Els was leading the European Tour money list late in the 2007 season. The season-ending Volvo Masters was pushed back a week to clash with the Singapore Open, even though Els said tour officials knew he had signed a three-year deal to play in Singapore. He honored his commitment, and Justin Rose won at Valderrama to secure the Order of Merit.

And now, Els said, they're pulling this again.

It's a mess, all right, and not just the week of the Presidents Cup.

* Nov. 10-13 has the Singapore Open, Australian Open and Taheiyo Masters in Japan. Adam Scott, who is Australian, is the defending champion in Singapore.

* Nov. 17-20 has the Presidents Cup, South African Open, Johor Open and Dunlop Phoenix, a top event on the Japan Golf Tour that surely would miss Ryo Ishikawa if the teen sensation is on the International team in Australia.

* Nov. 24-27 is the weekend of the World Cup in China, the Dunhill Championship in South Africa, the Australian PGA and Casio World Open in Japan.

The worst of it might be Dec. 1-4, which features these tournaments and their defending champions -- Chevron World Challenge (Graeme McDowell), Hong Kong Open (Ian Poulter), Nedbank Challenge (Lee Westwood) and Australian Masters (Stuart Appleby).

McDowell wants to be at the World Cup. If he decides to defend his title at Chevron (where he beat host Tiger Woods in a playoff), that means going consecutive weeks from China to California to Dubai.

"Geographical nightmare," McDowell said. "There's a lot of golf going on."

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