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May 25, 2006

Ernie Els


SCOTT CROCKETT: Ernie, thanks as always for coming and joining us. We've had everyone else's take on how the course has shaped up under tournament conditions, how about yours, how did you find it?

ERNIE ELS: Today it was soft and I think the greens staff did a heck of a job last night to get this place playable. I think the greens were running beautifully. So no wind really to speak of compared to the last couple of days. There's really a scoring opportunity today.

But I think saying that, you know, with the new changes, I think the course did stand up to an easy day.

My round, I hit a couple of bunkers on 6 and 9. Yes, they were coming into play. Overall I think it was a fair test this morning and I think if you play properly you can shoot under 70.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Let's get your details and then we'll take questions.

ERNIE ELS: 4, I hit a good drive and 6 iron to the front edge and 2 putted.

I bogeyed 5 and 6. On 5 I hit a 6 iron short of the green and chipped it behind the hole about eight feet and missed.

6, I hit it into the fairway bunker on the right and hit it short of the green. Pitched it up to about five feet and missed.

7 I hit an 8 iron for my second and about a 12 , 14 footer for birdie.

9, I hit it into the left fairway bunker, 5 iron on the green and made a long putt, about a 40 footer there.

12, I hit it on the green in two with a 5 wood and 2 putted from about 30 feet.

18, I hit a 3 iron for my second shot, 12 feet, and left it short.

Q. Of the bunkers, which were the ones that you were in, which were the ones, the new ones that you put in?

ERNIE ELS: I was in the new one at 9 on the left side. I went into 6 where we used to lay up short with a 4 iron, but I hit a driver in there.

Q. But that bunker's always been there?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, that bunker's been there.

Q. One of your own creation that you were in today?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, on 9. Stupid me. (Laughter).

SCOTT CROCKETT: But you made a birdie from it.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, it's the place to be.

Q. Fairest estimate how much harder the course is now than last year, how much strokes do you expect per round?

ERNIE ELS: It will be a really good indication today. The Old Course, conditions like these, I think you would have seen a 64, really. There might still be one today. And even on 3, they moved the tees way up. It's way down there by the ladies tee this morning. You're hitting 9 iron in there.

So there's still a lot of room where they can make it tougher. The flags were pretty accessible on all the high spots. It was really today was your scoring opportunity, to put it that way.

Who knows, you know. Let's see at the end of the day how the scoring is.

Q. Do you have more clubs this year, do you find yourself using more?

ERNIE ELS: Well, in the Pro Am yesterday, yes. Yesterday was a joke almost. I mean, they had all the tees at the back and it was blowing so hard. A hole like No. 6, I hit it five yards on the fairway and I hit a 4 iron for my second shot. Overall you're a club longer here and there, yeah.

Q. How do you feel you played today?

ERNIE ELS: I felt very comfortable. You know, I felt I hit a lot of good tee shots, hit a lot of fairways today, hit my iron shots nicely. I got my ball flight back nicely. You know, I don't want to be too critical but I did miss a couple of putts here and there. But I'm pretty pleased with the score, though.

Q. The 3 iron you hit at the last, you were past the flag, weren't you?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I hit a really good drive and a really good second. I hit the drive as good as I could and a 3 iron as good as I could, so two good shots there.

Q. You were saying you needed to be more aggressive when you put weight on your left side, do you feel you were doing that?

ERNIE ELS: After yesterday's Pro Am, I went to the range, and it's such a crazy game. I hit balls for, what, 15 minutes. I felt something on the last couple of holes in the Pro Am and then I worked on it on the range and then it just clicked. I went with that same swing thought and I really felt good today. So I'm quite excited about the week.

Q. Do you expect to see a 66?

ERNIE ELS: Yes, I do. I think some of the holes are longer, as I say, but the greens are holding. The greens are running perfectly. Especially this morning, I would say you had your best chance this morning.

But, you know, the weather is perfect now. I would say if you play properly you can shoot anything under 70.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Ernie, well done, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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