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January 25, 2019

Ernie Els

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Q. A wonderful round of 65 today for a total of 11-under. What's going on? You're nearly 50 years of age. You're not supposed to do this.
ERNIE ELS: No, I like this place, as you know. I've had some really great times here. I'm swinging well, my body feels well. Just, you know, going on the memory bank, I guess. Playing with Colin and José was also fun. We've done a lot in the game, and we had a good couple of chats, and I found my form. You've got to love it.

Q. Three-time winner here. You've shot 61 around this course. When you step on it, how big is the feel-good factor?
ERNIE ELS: It's there. It's obviously a little different golf course. They've really grown the rough. I see the scoring is really good. I see scoring slowing down a little bit over the weekend in the afternoons. The greens were getting a little firmer, faster, but if you get it in the fairway, give yourself second-shot opportunities, and the putter has been working, so it's been fun.

Q. Nearly 800 starts as a professional golfer in 30 years for you, 57 wins. Do you realise if you finish top 10, it will be your 300th top 10 of your career, which we think is extraordinary. What do you think?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I don't keep those stats, I'm sorry --

Q. 300 top 10s:
ERNIE ELS: We, we try and play the game to win tournaments and do as good as you can. I've had a good time. I've been a professional for a very long time, and I've got one more year before I'm 50. I'm only 50 in October, so I'll try and have a good year this year and just try and enjoy it.

Q. Thoughts going into the weekend in this position?
ERNIE ELS: You know, you've got to keep going. As I say, I think it might play a little tougher over the weekend and in the afternoons if the wind comes. But I think still just keep the foot on the pedal, try and make some birdies. I think 20-under is probably where you need to be or maybe even more. There's still a lot of work to be done.

Q. What was it like walking down the 18th?
ERNIE ELS: I've had some really great moments on the 18th but also some disappointments. I've put it in the water a couple times to lose tournaments. But I also one time hit a 3-iron and made eagle to win the tournament. Yeah, I know, it's a very rewarding hole when you get it right, and I got it right today.

Q. Of course this is out of your 28 wins the first one of your European Tour wins, and you've had two or three here. Is this an extra special place for you where all the memories come back to you?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, it's great coming back, especially later in your career now. I meet up with friends I've met from 25, 26 years ago, and in certain ways things don't change, but in many ways it does, obviously. It's just great to come back to Dubai and seeing the changes that have gone on here in the last quarter century. It's been amazing. You know, I'm running out of time but enjoying it.

Q. The skyline has changed a lot but the golf course hasn't that much, so you know it better than anybody. 65 here, tied leading. What do you need to do with the next 36 holes in front of you?
ERNIE ELS: Well, you've got to keep going. I think these youngsters, they're going to keep firing birdies. I think the course might get a little bit tougher because the greens are going to get a little firmer and quicker, but these kids can really play. I'm just happy with the first two days. Still a lot of work to be done. I think you've got to get into 20-under figure if the wind doesn't stop blowing. A lot of work to be done, but so far I'm enjoying it.

Q. I think you're going to have a lot more eyes on you tomorrow.
ERNIE ELS: That's fine. I'm enjoying it. Thanks a lot.

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