Ernie Els hosts “Els for Autism” Pro-Am in Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) – One of the great champions of golf, Ernie Els has a lot on his resume. A four-time major champion, the former no. 1-ranked player in the world has won two British Opens and two U.S. Opens. But the “Big Easy,” as he’s known, is also a champion off the course.

A father of a son with autism, Els is a champion for the cause of autism research and awareness. On Monday, Els held his “Els for Autism” Pro-Am at Princess Anne Country Club, with the help of event organizer John Gibson and Steve Van Horn, a former Navy Seal of 26 years.

“I said, ‘Hey, you do it, and I’ll come up here.’ Today, we’re here. They’ve organized the whole day, all the members from the club are here. So, it’s a wonderful day,” said Els, who just competed in his 100th major championship last weekend at the 99th PGA Championship.

The tournament exceeded its goal by raising more than $150,000, all of which will go to “Els For Autism.” Other charities involved included the Virginia Autism Project, Autistic Children of Tidewater, and the Ryan Owens Foundation, in honor of the Navy Seal killed in action back in January. Owens’ widow Carryn was also present, and was honored with a fly-over by the VFA 143 Strike Squadran prior to the start of the tournament.