Instead of having to win the Houston Open to be part of the action at the Masters next week the former world number one might have joined Japan's Ryo Ishikawa in receiving a special invitation.
Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said on adding the 20-year-old to the field earlier this month: "Historically, the Masters has invited international players not otherwise qualified to expand the tournament's global reach.
"Ryo Ishikawa is an accomplished player on the Japan Golf Tour and we believe his presence will help increase interest not only in his home country, but also throughout Asia."
Colin Montgomerie, never shy of voicing his opinion, had things to say four years ago when the invites went to China's Liang Wen-Chong, Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng and Indian Jeev Milkha Singh - and not to him despite his higher world ranking.
"It's a strange way to make up a field for a major championship - TV rights," he said.
"They are quite open about why, just as they were when I missed out last time in 2005 when they picked Shingo Katayama.
"They picked him over me for the Japanese TV rights.
"There are enough Brits in the field, so there won't be a call. Now if I were the only person in the country, a la China, I might get in.
"Let me tell you, I am not the only one who feels this way. In or not, I would be saying the same thing.
"The Masters has its own rules. It would be easier to swallow if no one was invited and the entry list was based on sporting and not commercial criteria."
The argument was very nearly not needed this time. The world's top 50 at the end of last year earned places and with a week to go Ishikawa was 50th and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 51st.
Neither played the next week, but because of the rolling two-year system of average points Ishikawa dropped to 51st and the Spaniard went up to 49th.
The last cut-off point was this Monday. Ishikawa was 50th again entering the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, but finishing only 53rd in the tournament dropped him to 52nd, while Jim Furyk - already exempt for Augusta - came 11th and climbed from 54th to 50th.
Augusta National could, of course, simply add an exemption category - just like the Royal and Ancient Club have for the Open Championship. In addition to staging a qualifying tournament in Asia there are no fewer than 10 exempt spots for the region.
Els, not inclined to have a pop at Augusta for their policy like Montgomerie, has finished fifth and fourth the last two weeks.
The first of those, when he bogeyed the last two holes after standing on the 71st tee with a one-shot lead, lifted him only from 68th to 62nd on the rankings and after Sunday he moved up only four spots after another bogey at the penultimate hole dropped him from joint third into a seven-way tie for fourth.
"Shooting a final round 75 to fall off the pace was obviously massively frustrating," said Els.
"Again I was pleased with my ball-striking, but on the greens I was awful.
"I could have probably shot five under par out there on Sunday if I had putted anything like I did the first couple of days."
If he had done that he would have finished only two behind winner Tiger Woods and would be Augusta-bound.
"On reflection I think I was a little tentative and that was the most disappointing thing.
"Qualification for the Masters through the top 50 in the world ranking is no longer an option for me, so I need to win.
"I'm playing good golf now, so obviously it will be great if I'm there. If I'm not, so be it.
"I'm just glad my game is coming around. So whatever happens this week I really feel now like I can have a good year - I feel like the hard work is paying off."