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July 20, 2017

Ernie Els

Southport, England

ERNIE ELS: My body feels okay. And I definitely know that we got away with a bit of a break in the weather. This morning it didn't sound good when I was lying in my bed, the wind and the rain. So the guys must have had it really tough. It started clearing up when we got to the first tee. And we had a club and a half wind all day, which is kind of a comfortable wind to have, when you're playing a links course. So I felt comfortable with that. And I played quite nicely.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I mean we had such perfect conditions in practise, and then we had that late storm yesterday afternoon. And then this morning, I didn't even want to look out of the window. It sounded horrific. If it's like that tomorrow, obviously it's going to be tough.

The last two times at Royal Birkdale we've had it very difficult, in '98 and 2008, I think. So hopefully it's not that bad, but I hear it's going to get a lot tougher. So we've just got to go with it. Whatever nature gives you, you've got to obviously try to respond with a golf shot.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: Who knows? That's what everybody wants, isn't it? The guy that tees up this morning or the guy that tees it up at 4:20 this afternoon. The guy at 4:20 is going to have the best conditions; it's going to be absolutely perfect. But that's the nature of playing The Open Championship. It's not too often where you have the whole first day and the whole second day exactly the same weather forecast. It just doesn't happen here. Yeah, I've played at 4:20, I've played at 7:40. I've played everywhere.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, well, we've had some years where we had to kind of dig deep. I like it when it's tough but not crazy (laughter). Hopefully it's not going to be crazy.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: Well, I mean, you can't take stock now. It's so far away. If you get to keep plugging away, get under par. Today, if you shoot 70 or better today, that was a good opening round because of the weather changing; it's better now. Tomorrow, 74 might be great. So you've just got to look at where you are in the field, but I feel that I'm competitive.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: I haven't played very well since Lytham. Yeah, that's just the bottom line.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, as I say, I enjoy this course. It plays a little bit like Lytham. There's a lot of iron shots that you have to play. You have to keep it between the bunkers, very much like Lytham. And I feel you get fairer bounces around here. So you can be a little bit aggressive here and there. And it's kind of soft, which Lytham was, also.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: I'm not sure. I just want to -- I mean, I just want to play as good as I can. I felt comfortable today. I feel I can keep feeling comfortable going forward. In a perfect world I'd love to be in the final group on Sunday. But I've won it, so I don't have all that major pressure on me like some of the other guys, but I still want to have a good showing. And as I say, if I'm there Sunday, I'd love to have a go.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to go back five years now. There was so much golf that was played in between. Obviously I started showing a round here and a round there, the U.S. Open and even at Augusta, I started playing decently here and there, I've just got to pull the whole thing together, that's what I'm trying to do.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: It's the body, really. The body this year was difficult, you know, lower back and some issues, but when I feel healthy, I feel that I can swing the club and come into links courses and feel like I can compete. And my mind feels like I wanted to compete, so that's a good thing.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS: Yeah. I mean, you stand on the range there, you see that TrackMan, guys are hitting it 320. I'm hitting it 280, and they're hitting it 320. But the golf course equalizes everybody. You can't be hitting 320 drives each and every hole. So you don't have to play perfect golf around here. You can hit shots and plotting.

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