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August 22, 2014

Ernie Els


Q.  Solid round, and getting out of the rough is the big key, just talk about your round a little bit?
ERNIE ELS:  I'm enjoying the golf course.  I've said that seeing the course Tuesday evening, I thought it looked much better than in 2008 and 2010.  They have done a hell of a job getting the course in shape.  I like the rough the way it is, otherwise scores might get a little bit low.  There's some soft holes coming in.
So I like the rough up.  It will penalize the way ward shot.  So I've been penalized a couple of times, but I like it this way.  I like it a little tougher.  And we'll see how it goes over the weekend.  My game feels in really good shape.  I feel like I'm striking the ball nicely and putting the ball nicely.  Concentration is pretty good.
I've just got a little niggle in my ribs here on the left, but I've got Vern, my trainer, here, who is trying to work it out so it felt better this morning.  So hopefully we'll get that sorted over the weekend.

Q.  Is it recent?
ERNIE ELS:  Just overwork.  This specimen, yeah, it can also get damaged (laughing).  It's the middle of back here and it shoots into the ribs.  I've had it before so I think I can manage it.

Q.  Do you feel like you've been trending in the right direction, like this is the culmination of some good play?
ERNIE ELS:  Yeah, I definitely think so.  I played last week.  I love Bobby Long.  He runs a great tournament.  Took it as just a week off, really.  Myself and Liezl went up there after the summer with the kids, so we kind of just lay low.  I feel like I've got a lot of energy now.
I've done a lot of work, just going on from the belly and just going on the short putter this week and really finding my feet on greens now.  I'm starting to feel like the old Ernie again on the greens.  So it's exciting.

Q.  Was the rough today tougher with the storm last night or was it about the same?
ERNIE ELS:  Around the greens, when it's wet it's a little easier but out of the fairway it's heavier, so the ball doesn't get out.  But I would like if they don't cut it.  I'm not the straightest driver in the world, but I feel it keeps the scores down, or up.  So I like it when really low scores win.
Obviously double figures will win this week, but I like it the way it's going.

Q.  When you have a week like the PGA and then follow it up with two good rounds this week, does it sort of reinforce the notion that two years ago at the British, that wasn't the ends; that you still have golf left?
ERNIE ELS:  I don't think about that.  I'm thinking about improving.  As I said, going to the short putter, there was a huge margin there to improve and I feel I've really closed a big gap there that I've been lacking in my game, and it's been my short game.  That's great, when you're starting to make putts, you'll even see me smile maybe now.  It's hard to smile when you keep missing putts, believe me, as a golfer.
So the whole energy feels different now.  So I feel I can still pull out a major I think in the next couple of years, so keep grinding.

Q.  Were you expecting that energy to come back when you went to the short putter?
ERNIE ELS:  Well, yeah, you know, you hope for the best.  I went through a tough time again.  I haven't had a great year.  It's mainly because of confidence on the greens and so forth.  I feel like we've turned a big corner here and my clubs with Adams is great now.  We've settled on a set of irons that I'm happy with, so I'm hitting the ball nice.
You know, I just me to go out there and concentrate and play good golf.  Everything is kind of getting in place now.

Q.  All the years you've been playing this, it's all about peaking at the right time, this whole FedExCup, and you never seem to. 
ERNIE ELS:  I came in 2010 like Jimmy Walker as the No. 1 and I think I finished last in the four rounds that year, and didn't have a good Playoffs.  I haven't had good Playoff runs.  I'm in position now, so this could be nice.  Be nice to get obviously to the next week.  You've seen me in the last couple of years.  I've been going from week‑to‑week (chuckling).  Remember 2011, and I think last year was the same thing, I just got through till BMW.  So I'd like to maybe have a decent run at it.

Q.  You ever been to Denver?
ERNIE ELS:  Yeah, I've played Cherry Hills.

Q.  On what occasion?
ERNIE ELS:  I played just with friends.  Love it.  Obviously played at Castle Pines, the International.  So been there many times.  Love it.  It's going to be great.

Q.  How would you assess the day out there?
ERNIE ELS:  It was good.  Obviously anything under 70 is good golf around here, even though it was a bit softer and a little bit smoother for us this morning on the greens.  You've still got to get the ball in the fairway.  If you miss the fairway, you're in real trouble.  So I had a bit of trouble on 18 but I'm happy that I shot 68.

Q.  The results in the last month have been pretty solid.  What is the state of your game as you look to make a run in the playoffs?
ERNIE ELS:  I'm excited.  I've done a lot of work this year to get on to the short putter, and with the new equipment with Adams, it's really feeling nice.  I've settled with a set of clubs now and it feels like the game is coming around.  I'm trying to stay excited and stay up, although I've played a lot of golf.  So I'm looking forward to the weekend.

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