London: Three-times major winner and former world number one Ernie Els has been voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2011.
The 40-year-old, whose selection in the Hall of Fame`s PGA Tour category was announced on Wednesday, will be inducted on May 9 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida.
"It was quite a surprise," South African Els told reporters with a broad smile at East Lake Golf Club. "I thought you had to be a little bit more senior.”
"You`d like to think you could have done more and can still do more, but obviously I`m very, very honored to be inducted."
Popularly known as the `Big Easy` because of his imposing physique and laidback demeanour, Els earned Hall of Fame selection in the first year he was on the PGA Tour ballot.
"Obviously this makes the year, it makes you feel very good about what you`ve done," said the 18-times PGA Tour champion.
"I`ve had a lot of achievements and I`ve won a lot of golf tournaments, especially worldwide. So for a boy from South Africa, that`s kind of nice."
Els has won more than 60 professional tournaments worldwide, including the US Open in 1994 and 1997 and the 2002 British Open at Muirfield.