Excellent golfer and possessor of extraordinary accent Ernie Els has a son, Ben, who is eight years old and autistic. Gene Wojciechowski wrote a column about it recently, in leading up to today's kickoff for The Master's. Els noticed something wasn't quite right with Ben in 2003, and in 2006 he was diagnosed with Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It's one of those diseases nobody really fully understands yet.
"At first," Els told W, "you think you've been knocked down by the man upstairs. It is a challenge at first. But when you find your feet, it really is a blessing. It's a special way of life. These kids are special people."
Odds are that one in every 110 kids will be born with some form of autism, and boys are four times more likely to get affected. Els told W it took him some time to make peace with it, that he felt sorry for himself at first and that he struggled with knowing that Ben wouldn't be what we know as normal.
But then he got over it, and decided to fight the odds, and formed the Els For Austism Golf Challenge. Between he and his wife, Liezl, they've raised more than $9 million in pledges. The money is going to go to a $30 million Els Center of Excellence facility, to be built in Palm Beach (Fla.) County. It'll be devoted to autism spectrum therapy, research, and education.
So all that to say that while I love Phil Mickelson and am pulling for Tiger Woods to snap out of his slump—hey, maybe it was dumb for him to have a bunch of affairs, but no man deserves to publicly endure what the guy has been through—I gotta say, I'm all about Ernie Els now.
Especially considering how April—my birthday month, FYI—is also National Autism Awareness Month.
For W's column, click here.