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My dad’s one of the greatest golfers ever and won the Open in Scotland – now I’m a star in a totally different career

HOW do you better your dad’s achievements when he’s a four-time major champion in golf, including winning two Opens?

Well, donning the famous colours of your rugby-mad country’s national team certainly goes a long way.

This is her now, all grown up (on the left)

Do you recognise this famous sporting dad?

Samantha Els in her Springboks kit

That’s exactly what the daughter of golfing legend Ernie Els has done.

The smooth-swinging South African, nicknamed ‘The Big Easy’ thanks to his fluid playing style, won his first Open Championship at one of the most famous Scottish venues way back in 2002.

Ernie was one of the top players during the nineties and noughties, at the height of Tiger Woods’ pomp, claiming two US Opens alongside a pair of claret jugs.

The first of those came at Muirfield, when he beat Stuart Appleby, Steve Elkington and Thomas Levet in a play-off.

He also tasted victory at the Scottish Open twice during his career and was a runner-up at the Open in 2004, losing to Todd Hamilton in another play-off when it was once again staged in Scotland at Royal Troon on the Ayrshire coast.

Ernie Els won the open at Muirfield in 2002 to cement his place in golf history

He was one of the world’s top golfers for two decades

He came agonisingly close to adding a Masters title to his CV, coming second in the 2000 and 2004 editions.

Ernie did win two World Golf Championships in the noughties as well and has since forged a solid career on the senior tour (the PGA Tour Champions).

However, when he’s not still teeing it up the 54-year-old is taking a keen interest in his daughter’s sporting career – even though it’s remarkably different from his own.

Samantha Els only took up rugby five years ago but has since worked her way up the ladder and was selected to represent the Springbok Women this year.

Samantha in training camp with her team mates

Samantha, 24, was called up to the Springbok Women’s camp as they prepared for the WXV 2 tournament.

She was thrown into the starting line-up for the warm-up match against San Clemente Rhinos and enjoyed a winning debut as South Africa triumphed by 22 points to 17.

Samantha started at lock, wearing the number five, after impressing during training camp.

Head coach Louis Koen said: “I was mindful of the fact that we played in a Test match only two days ago on Saturday, and we will be playing another match this coming Saturday against a high-ranked Barbarians team.

Samantha made her debut for the Springbok Women in September

Samantha in action on the field

“We needed to rotate players for this match, while also giving some of those who had been working hard at camp an opportunity to put that practice into match action.”

Buzzing dad Ernie posted on Instagram after Samantha’s international debut, revelling in the fact his daughter had sported the Springbok colours.

He said: “We’re so proud of your journey and now you’re the first in the family to wear the rugby Springboks colours.

“Live every day, a dream for Samantha.”

Springboks icon Brian Habana, who won the World Cup in 2007, added his compliments. He said: “This is incredible!!! Congratulations Sam.”

While Ernie couldn’t be happier for his daughter, naturally there is a healthy bit of sporting rivalry between the two.

Samantha has been quick to use her new status to joust with her dad at the dinner table.

She revealed: “I like joking with him, I’ll say ‘I have a green jersey now even if you don’t have a green jacket yet’.

“It’s a huge honour for any family so mine is no different.

“Being the first Springbok in the family is a nice one for me to take to the dinner table.”

While the family banter is welcome, Samantha admits her father’s support as he pursued a radically different career has been invaluable.

She said: “The support has been immeasurable and obviously having someone who has that champions’ mentality to learn from, from both my dad and my mum who’s been travelling with him.”

Samantha caddied for her dad at The Masters during the Par 3 contest

She’s lived most of her life in the USA but is a South African at heart

Indeed, Samantha only decided to give rugby a proper try after she enrolled in university and was fed up of playing tennis and football as she had done growing up.

After being selected to represent the USA at under-23 level (she qualifies for the USA as she moved with her family to Florida at the age of five), Samantha said: “Playing for the U23 team this summer was an honour I never saw coming.

“I started playing rugby casually as a freshman and quickly learned I am not a casual person and this was the sport and the family I had been waiting for.

“Thank you to everyone who got me here, and to the people who told me it was a bad idea, you’re not wrong but damn it’s worth it.”

Samantha’s interest in golf doesn’t extend much beyond her father’s exploits but she has caddied for him at the Par 3 Tournament at The Masters in previous years.

Ernie also has a son, Ben, who is autistic and the family launched the Els for Autism charity in 2009.

Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page