PEBBLE BEACH, June 16- Seeing his native South Africa shine as host of the World Cup was a thrill for golfer Ernie Els, even watching from half a world away.Els, whose parents are visiting in the States from South Africa, watched the opening ceremony on television with his father.
"I must say my hair was standing on end for about 20 minutes," Els said. "It’s just an amazing spectacle down there, the biggest sporting event in the world, and we’re hosting it.
"And at least we drew the first game. We always thought we were going to lose against Mexico, so it was a great tie."
Els said he hoped to make it back to South Africa before the World Cup ends. In the meantime, he said, it might just serve as inspiration for the South African golfers in the US Open this week at Pebble Beach.
"We’ve got quite a few South African players in the field, and a lot of them are playing really well," he said. "I think at least one of us can do well this week."
Els said he’d even like to hear the sound of a few vuvuzelas echoing around the Monterey Peninsula.
The noisy horns blown by South African football fans aren’t embraced by all.
"I think it would be cool," Els said when asked if he’d like to hear them at the US Open.
However, he admitted they could pose a problem in the restrained world of golf, where even a camera click on a player’s backswing can provoke a tirade.
"I think it would be difficult not to blow that thing on your backswing, you know," he said. "I don’t think that will go down really well here with the US Golf Association.
"I don’t think the USGA will allow it on the tournament grounds. Maybe practice rounds, that would give a bit of more spirit to things. Those things are really loud, though."
While South African fans were thrilled by their opening draw with Mexico, England fans were dismayed by a 1-1 opening draw with the United States, in which a blunder by England keeper Robert Green allowed the Americans the equaliser.
England’s Lee Westwood, who was playing the US PGA Tour event in Memphis when the match was on last week, saw it on a replay and on Tuesday he still didn’t want to talk about it.
"Yeah, I saw the US goal," Westwood said. "What’s your point?"
Westwood said he was probably the only golfer in Memphis hoping for a rain delay, so he could watch the match live. As it turned out, he wasn’t sorry he missed it.
"Thankfully I didn’t get a rain delay and I didn’t have to watch it. By all accounts it was fairly average."
But Westwood said he was checking out the results and what action he could in the mornings here.
He put down the wealth of draws in the early group matches to conservative play.
"I think it’s the early stages and teams are still trying to find their feet and not make too many mistakes," he said. "It’s a bit like being in a playoff really. You don’t want to give the first couple of holes away and be too aggressive."
Tiger Woods has had an eye on the football as well, calling the US goal against England "a gift."
The world number one had some sympathy for Green, saying he hoped he would be given a chance to atone rather than being axed.
"I hope he gets a chance to play and is not finished," Woods said.