Ernie Els has no question in his mind that Rory McIlroy is going to be golf's greatest player.
Back at the Congressional course where he won the 1997 US Open by a shot from Colin Montgomerie, Els was asked about what help he could be to the 22-year-old as he prepares for his first major since his Masters meltdown in April.
“I'm probably the best guy to ask for advice because I've done so many things in my career where I didn't quite close a lot of events,” said the South African, whose two US Open and one Open title amount to nothing like the return many expected of him.
“He's very young, he's still learning. He's got all the talent in the world — he's a future number one without a doubt.
“First time I ever saw him I thought he's incredible. And he is incredible.”
On McIlroy's closing 80 which cost him victory at Augusta, Els added: “He made some mistakes there. He's not perfect — nobody is perfect.
“When he breaks through he can just open the floodgates, but he's just got to break through.
“He obviously had an opportunity there and hopefully he's learned from it and he didn't get too despondent about screwing up on that 10th hole.
“If he keeps his head up, I think he's going to win a lot of majors — but obviously he has to win the first to win a lot.”
Els is hoping the memories of 14 years ago assist him in changing the course of what he says has been an “atrocious” season so far.
“It's been a very weird, weird year this year so far, but my sense of urgency is very much there.
“I'm putting a lot of work into my game. I need to basically find a way of letting it happen. Maybe this week.
“There's an art to it in many ways. That's why you've got to take your hat off to guys who have won a lot of majors because this is in real-time — there's no playbacks, no do-overs, no second serves.
“You have to play your shot and then you've got to hit your next shot. You can't be thinking about ‘I'm going to make history now and this will get me my first win of seven or eight'.
“I've found myself in that situation and those are probably the ones that I've screwed up. And the other ones that I won I just stayed steady and basically stayed the course.
“There's a very fine line going either way.”