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May 19, 2016

Ernie Els

Irving, Texas

Q. Muirfield has voted not to allow female members. What's your opinion on that situation?
ERNIE ELS: Listen, it's a private membership, you know. It's kind of a weird deal, you know. That golf course has been there for a long time and, you know, the real name of the golf club are Extraordinary League of Gentlemen or -- something like that. It's a men's golf course.

We have quite a few of those around the world and, you know, the Open Championship goes to Muirfield -- you're kind of a guest of the club and, you know, now that the Open Committee, the Championship Committee have taken this step, obviously we can't go there because they don't allow women in the clubhouse.

So, it's quite straightforward, really, but it's an unfortunate that Muirfield Golf Club as we know won't be on the Open rotation probably until they have a woman member.

It's kind of unfortunate and especially with all the history that's gone on at Muirfield. They've had some unbelievable championships and obviously I was lucky enough to be one of the winners there. It will be quite a blow for the Open rotation not to have Muirfield on the schedule.

Q. What would be missed by not testing the best golfers in the world at that particular golf course?
ERNIE ELS: It's just -- I can speak for the golf course, for the politics of the club, I can't really speak for, you know. If I was a member I could maybe give you some more insight but it's pretty straightforward, you know.

I think there was a vote and obviously if there's not a majority, you know, the membership, you know, didn't vote for it.

As a golf course it's one of the best golf courses you'll ever play. Each hole goes a little different direction. Wind on that course, when the wind blows it's one of the most difficult courses you'll ever play. It's a classic course.

I myself through my design I've taken a lot out of that golf course into other designs on the par-3s and some of the par-5s. It's just an unbelievable classic golf course. It will be sorely missed.

Q. Just to comment on your round today, if we can.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah. 68 is probably going to be almost par for the course, you know. In Dallas normally we have a lot of wind and, you know, normally plays a little firmer but today is pretty getable, you know. No wind, soft, ball in the hand. 68 was a good round.

I had opportunities to go lower but, you know, I'm pretty pleased with that and hopefully that's my worse round of the week because I think you're going to have to score low this week to win.

Q. Most people know that you won here. It's been awhile. '95.
ERNIE ELS: Most people. It's 20 years ago.

Q. What brings you back? I think you were last here in 2012.
ERNIE ELS: It's the schedule. I've always wanted to play. I got so many friends here. I based myself here in Dallas way back in the start of my career. I always want to play here. So many friends here.

I've kind of been committed with the Wentworth Club for many years now and that's kind of been the difference. They've had that tournament the same week as this week and I played it. I feel like I have to play it.

Q. Any recollections of Mr. Nelson?
ERNIE ELS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I remember him sitting on his chair there and at the tent and always used to greet us coming off 18 and the most gentleman like man you'll ever meet in your life. I was very privileged to have known him and just a wonderful man. So, just great to play in this event.

Q. Your game seems like it's coming around. Are you motivated at all going to Oakmont in a couple weeks?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I've been speaking to Bob Ford, obviously the pro there, and we've been talking about how it was in '94 and how they had it set up in '07 and I know probably going to have it this year. I really can't wait to get there. Probably going to go play there next week.

I want to go play a couple of rounds there and come get myself familiar with the course again and see what happens. So, I'm really looking forward to it. That's why I've been in a rush to try to get my game, you know, and just haven't quite had the momentum going yet. But, hopefully, it's coming, you know, I've been working on it.

Q. Ernie, your thoughts on the R & A taking Muirfield out of the rotation.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah. It's Catch-22, you know. You're going to a private club, you know, they basically welcome us to their club. We kind of follow the rules.

I mean some of the rooms we can't even go in as professionals. We can go into the locker room or we can't go into certain areas of the club, you know, and that's the membership, the membership has their rules and regulations and we kind of follow that.

It's unfortunate that, you know, for us, for the Open Championship rotation that one of their rules don't fit in with the Open Championship Committee's way they want to go forward.

So, it's one of those things. They have the right for their own rules and the Open Championship is going with a sign of the times.

So, you know, it is what it is. I mean I can't say they're wrong and we're right and whatever, you know. I'd love to play there as a competitor, I'd love to play the tournament at the golf course because it's one of the best links courses in the world but, you know, we're in a situation and it will be missed, you know, really. The guys will really miss it because it's a great course.

Q. Is it a little more bittersweet for you having won there?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah. At my stage, my career, you know, if I could have gone back there once more, it would have been great. They only have it like every five years or maybe every ten years. I will see how it goes.

Maybe in ten years time we will go back there if things change. But, yeah, it's kind of weird it won't be in the rotation because it's been in the rotation ever since I can remember, since the game started. So, it will be kind of weird.

Q. As a champion there, have you ever talked to any of the members about sort of their stance on it and what they thought would happen?
ERNIE ELS: No. The membership there is very much like Augusta. They don't really talk about policies of the club. You try and drag something out of them, they pretty -- they are tight lipped about a lot of things.

I'm sure they had their meeting, they had a vote and bang, that was probably it. There's no real underlying current. It's very clear they had a vote and the guys just went with what they've had for probably over a hundred years, 150 years, however old the club is. It's unfortunate.

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