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CNBC Exclusive:  Ernie Els Talks To Scott Wapner

By CNBC.com

Ernie Els may be one of the world’s top professional golfers but he hasn’t limited himself to the world of sports.

In a wide-ranging interview with CNBC’s Scott Wapner at the annual Tavistock Cup in Orlando, Florida Tuesday, Els discussed the Chinese economy and investing along with the world of golf.

Els, who’s won almost 60 professional tournaments in the last 15 years, has diverse business interests.  After winning the U.S. open in 1997, Els started designing golf courses. He also runs Wine and Golf Tours, has his own foundation, and is an active investor. Els also counts a long list of corporate sponsors, including Calloway Clubs and SAP.

The annual Tavistock Cup pits teams from two master planned golf communities -- the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club and Isleworth Country Club, led by Tiger Woods Isleworth. Of course, the Tavistiock also serves as a tune-up for the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, kicking off April 2.

“The week before Augusta you want to stay sharp on your game,” says Els. “This is a nice competitive way to stay competitive.

Tavistock Cup Update

Although Els has occupied a spot in the top-10 of golf’s official world rankings for a record 655 consecutive weeks, he has never won the Masters.

Asked about his chances, Els says: "My game has really come a long way. I’ve  been hitting the ball pretty well.” He quickly adds that Tiger Woods is “playing great.” 

Els, who invested in a casino in Macau, says: ”I go to China quite a bit. The place is just exploding.” He’s also invested in real estate in the Bahamas.

Els follows the markets closely and dabbles in investing on his own, admitting to a “win-some-lose-some track record. “My big stuff, I let the professionals handle it.”