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January 27, 2007

Ernie Els


CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Thanks for coming in, nice 68 to give you a chance for tomorrow. You must be happy with that.
ERNIE ELS: I'm happy with the score. I needed something on under 70 but obviously I was looking for something a little lower.
To be honest with you I didn't hit the ball all that great today. I scrambled a little bit the first couple of holes on front nine. Then I found a bit of rhythm there and made two birdies on the front nine to turn in 2-under and I was looking forward to a really big back nine which never really showed up. I didn't make any bogeys but I made quite a few par saves.
It was a bit of a scramble today, so tomorrow I would like to play better and try and shoot something really low is.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: A sense of déjà vu, 2005 you were in a similar position going into the last day.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I was trying to remember how many shots I was behind, hopefully I was five behind, I'm five behind today.
The guys still have some easy holes to play coming in. But if I'm five behind I think I've got an outside chance, but as I say, I've got to play good golf and try and play mistake-free golf and make a lot of birdies. We'll give it a shot.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: This is your third round of the year, do you slowly feel like you're free-wheeling the game?
ERNIE ELS: Today I don't know what happened. I don't know, my rhythm wasn't good on the driver. The first two days I hit the driver great but I made some mental errors all over the players. I mis-clubbed myself, hit it in the wrong places.
If I could have had the rhythm today I think I could have shot a good score. But golf is a funny sport. Didn't quite have it today but I find of grinded it out, put it that way.

Q. How close are you to getting back to where you were is this?
ERNIE ELS: You know, I mean I think the win last year at the South African Open was big. I would say that was an indication of maybe the old Ernie or whatever you want to say of two, three years ago. You know, I could have played another tournament after that because I really found my rhythm that week.
I've had a couple of weeks off since then and I had a nice holiday. It into the quite the same as it was in Humewood in South Africa but I'm not too far off. So I have a lot of golf to look forward to this year and overall I'm looking for a much better product so to speak to come out this year than it's been in the past.

Q. How were conditions out there? Was it much more difficult than the last two days?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, it blowing probably as much, you know, or more than it's blown all week. It's a lot stronger today, holes into the wind are quite tough. It's blowing a little different direction also than the last two days and blowing across golf course. You've a lot more shots going across you, so it's difficult to get the ball really close to the hole. It's quite firm.
So it's a good golf course. You're not going to just blow this thing apart. You've really got to play proper golf here. It's playing difficult.

Q. Can this be a good year if you don't win a major? Where did you see yourself at the moment?
ERNIE ELS: You know, if I -- obviously would you like to win a major so that's a good question. Where I've been, I'd like to just get into the top five, the top three, that will be great. I've got to bolt from somewhere, let's see if I can get some rhythm going before the Masters. If I can get some good golf going, I feel I can have a really good chance at the Masters.
To come back to your plan, we've got Augusta; U.S. Open at Oakmont, there's some good memories there hopefully; and British Open is at Carnoustie; and then the PGA is at Southern Hills. So we've got some good courses. I haven't done all that great at Southern Hills in the past, but the other three, I think I've got a really good chance also.
I can't say I'm going to be disappointed if I finish second four times. You will be disappointed but that's four good tournaments. But I'm really looking forward to trying to win a major, let me put it that way.

Q. How long is it since you felt that strong and optimistic?
ERNIE ELS: I would say at the Open last year. (Laughing) at Hoylake I had a good feeling going into that week. I felt comfortable on the course and I had a lot of support that week and I felt really good that week but didn't quite have it over the weekend. I'm trying to get a lot more positive since the Open last year.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Talking about support, your family flew into Doha this morning.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, woke me up, 6:30 this morning. I'm not a great early riser as it is, but they flew in and it's great to have them here. Brought a teacher for Samantha so she can do her homework next week in Dubai in the sun.
No, it great to have them here. We have a great life, but it's also difficult to be away from home.

Q. In Dubai next week, you go head-to-head against Tiger and we have heard and read about your thoughts on catching up with Tiger in the next three years, so how are you feeling with that? Will that be an early test to your resolution?
ERNIE ELS: It's easy to talk about it. You've got to go out and play the game. What I said I said quite a while ago and that's something that I really want to strive for and work for.
You know, Tiger is Tiger. He's been the best players ever since he's come out here. But I just want to get the best out of myself, basically and that is basically what I'm striving for, to really get the best game out of myself and trying to be the best I can. The only way I can do that is to become No. 1 in the world and right now it's a little far off to think about it, he's so far ahead. That's why I thought a three-year plan is more realistic than just trying to go in and bash it out.
So, yeah, it will be great to see him next week and I just, you know, try and play as best I can. If I can do one better than last year, it would be great.

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