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April 9, 2017

Ernie Els

Augusta, Georgia

Q. Just express how you went through the day and how much maybe you tried to reminisced while also trying to play golf.
ERNIE ELS: I had a good day. I just said, I had a good day with Jeff, it's the second time that he's been my marker around here. So, just nice playing with him.
And it was quite a few people out on the front nine getting their seats and stuff, the patrons, and they gave me a nice applause here and there. And it was just nice to play.
I, obviously, didn't play good again, but it's nice to go around again. And I don't really feel that emotional, I think, just because of my play. If I played better, I think it would have been a different feeling. But it was a good weekend, beautiful weather and nice to play four rounds.

Q. You looked especially, I think, coming off of 8, or coming off 7 going to 8, you looked like you were having fun.
ERNIE ELS: Well, if you make a birdie, you have fun. It didn't last very long. But I had a good day. It was nice playing with these guys and playing the Tournament again and playing four rounds, as I said, was the positive.
The negative is just that my play was atrocious and that's the hard part to take. But if I look back at the 23, 24 years here, it was, you know, how many professional golfers get the opportunity to play the Masters 23 times? And having a chance to win it a couple of times was special and this tournament is just not for me. I've won a lot of events around the world, but this one just eluded me and that's fine.

Q. You haven't written off not coming back here, have you?
ERNIE ELS: No, I think there's still obviously a chance. I'm still trying to win a TOUR event to get to 20. And I'm 48 this year, so if I get back, great. Obviously, it's not totally out of the picture, but if it is, it is.

Q. We know you had a couple of disappointments here, but what are the good memories you'll go away with?
ERNIE ELS: I got to go back maybe a decade or more. No, I think the very first time was very have special in 1994. I had a couple of really great groupings, I played with Ben Crenshaw that year, I played with Jose Maria in the third round that year, he went on to win. So, that was a great time.
And then, obviously, the times I came close. I think 2004 was really special Sunday for myself. And just being here, it's just a special feeling. The guys in the locker room are still the same guys and the members I've met here through the years are the same people and they run an amazing event. So it's just been a special, special time.
As I say, to have been a part of it for 23, 24 years is special. It's a place where you dream to get to once or twice. And to do it for so long was great.

Q. Do you see yourself coming back here as a non‑competitor at all in the future in any form?
ERNIE ELS: I wouldn't put it out of a possibility, maybe I'll come back, yeah, why not, I might come back and say hi to the guys and check it out. It will be special.

Q. Are you sentimental going to the U.S. Open this year, since it's been 20 years since you won the U.S. Open. Does that mean anything to you or not?
ERNIE ELS: No, I'm not that kind of guy. But, yeah, I'm going to go out there and try and play and I'm too young to get sentimental. We're getting to that age, I guess 47, 48, but I've still got some time left.

Q. You mentioned that '94 event here being a memorable one. Did that teach you things, because two months later you go out and win the U.S. Open.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I think I learned something here. I think putting on these greens, I loved putting on these greens, and I still do, believe it or not. And that's definitely the thing that helped me for Oakmont. Because Oakmont is very similar slopes, similar speed, and I was, I loved putting at Oakmont.
So, really playing with Jose and with Ben in that first year was unbelievable, because Ben Crenshaw is an absolute specialist here, and Jose went on to win. So, definitely learned a lot from those guys.

Q. Young lad McIlroy, just walking down the first nine here to address us here and they're saying about him what they said about you, you're going to win half a dozen green jackets here. Didn't happen for you. So what kind of advice can you offer young Rory?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I mean, he's so young still. He's played quite a few, he's had a couple of chances already. It doesn't seem like it's burned him too much in the way he speaks about some of his close calls. And if he keeps a good attitude, I think he's fine.
He has the perfect game for here. And whether you keep saying it or not, it's a fact. And I'm sure he can win it. And if he gets that first one, he can win a few. I know we said this many, many times, but, and I do believe in him, because he's got an all‑around great game and he's longer than I was at that age. And you need to be really long around here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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