Having a career that has overlapped with the meteoric rise (and headline-grabbing fall) of Tiger Woods has likely been a blessing and a curse for other top professional golfers. On the one hand, some of their best efforts were rendered footnotes by the preternaturally gifted Woods. But their sport has also drawn more attention than it ever had before thanks to Woods' prodigious gifts. Some of these other golfers have chafed at their second-rate status while others have embraced the role of the underdog.
True to his nickname, "The Big Easy" Ernie Els does not fall into either of these categories. Perhaps the fact that he has been ranked as the world's No. 1 golfer both before and during Tiger's career allows him to feel secure in his status in the game. Regardless of the reason, the 41-year-old South African seemed characteristically comfortable with his legacy and the impact that he has had around the world during a recent conversation with HuffPost Sports.
Els was in New York for the 26th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner for the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis at the Waldorf-Astoria. The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis was founded by NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti after his son, Marc, sustained a spinal cord injury during a college football game in 1985. Over the ensuing years, the Buonicoti Fund has supported ground-breaking research on spinal cord injuries. With Els among the main attractions, the fundraiser on Sept. 26 raised more than $10 million.