The Big Easy who has won two Open Championships and two US Opens will be making his 21st appearance at the first Major of the year.
“I came close twice before in 2000 and 2004 and obviously am hoping that 2015 will be the year,” said the 45-year-old on his website.
In 2004, Els came perilously close to winning when he finished one-shot behind American Phil Mickelson – who lipped in for birdie on the 72nd hole to earn his first Major title.
“There is some amazing talent out here again this year but I think the Masters is one place where experience has huge value.”
The testing Augusta layout favours a draw (right-to-left shot shape), and Els felt his game was well-suited to the course.
“Looking back I always felt this was the perfect course for my game, with my right-to-left shot shape, and I love the challenge the greens and surrounds provide with the short game.
“I’ve played some great golf here over the years and also had a little misfortune.”
Els missed his first ever Masters, since making his first appearance in 1994, in 2012 after his World Ranking fell to outside the top-50 in the world, and would still be keen to put his vast experience at the event to good use.
“There are so many subtleties to this course that you often have to have played it to know and understand what they mean to the approach shots and also the positioning off the tee.
“It is so difficult to appreciate the movements and slopes here when watching on TV and I know that the announcers talk about that every year but the cameras, which flatten things out, just can’t pick it all up. Sometimes you have to play to certain spots on the green rather than your instinct to fire directly at a flag so that experience is a big factor in my opinion.”
On the PGA Tour this season, Els had produced some decent results (a best of tied-13th two weeks ago at the Arnold Palmer Invitational) that could indicate a top-finish is around the corner.
“Obviously, coming back to the same venue is unique at The Masters. My game is feeling good and I am rolling the ball nicely on the greens, and have made lots of birdies the last couple of weeks, which is always a nice feeling.
“I have made a few errors that have cost me scoring wise, but feel that my game is right there.”
The rest of the South African challenge will be taken up by Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters Champion), Branden Grace, Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters Champion).
Thursday SA tee times :
Group 15, 10:30am ET (4:30pm SA time) – Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Joost Luiten (NED), Sangmoon Bae (KOR)
Group 19, 11:14am ET (5:13pm SA time) – Trevor Immelman (RSA), Kevin Stadler (USA), Scott Harvey (USA)
Group 23, 12:09pm ET (6:09pm SA time) – Zach Johnson (USA), Jim Furyk (USA), Ernie Els (RSA)
Group 24, 12:20pm ET (6:20pm SA time) – Angel Cabrera (ARG), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Matias Dominguez (CHI)
Group 30, 1:26pm ET (7.26pm SA time) – Fred Couples (USA), Branden Grace (RSA), Thongchai Jaidee (THA) – ANA
Original source: Els still dreams of Masters glory