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February 3, 2007

Ernie Els


RODDY WILLIAMS: Ernie, thanks very much for coming in and joining us. A two-shot lead to take into the final day; things going to plan?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I think I'm real fortunate to be two ahead. I don't think the other guys did too much today. Maybe it was a long day for some of us. But I played really nice. I played quite solid from tee-to-green. I don't feel like I missed too many shots. When I did, I had some good lies in the rough to advance it to the green.
So, you know, I feel I played solid. I felt like I probably left a couple of shots out there. You know, the 3-putt on the first hole was really uncalled for. I was 12 feet behind the hole, perfect second shot, and I was just going to tap it in and I missed it. That put me on the back foot a little bit. Then a 3-putt on 8.
But other than that, you know, pretty solid, and quite satisfied.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Two birdies to finish, as well, to pull you out of the pack.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I missed a putt on 15 for birdie and I missed a short one on 16 also for birdie. I hit some good shots down the stretch. Made a good little one on 17 and 2-putted 18.
So yeah, you know, at least I've got a two-shot lead, all to play for tomorrow. I've got half an idea of what I'd like to do tomorrow, so I'd like to do that and try and win the tournament.
RODDY WILLIAMS: What is that idea you have for tomorrow?
ERNIE ELS: I've just got to shoot somewhere in the middle 60s and hopefully should be okay.

Q. Last week when you finished your round you said it would take a minus 15 to win the tournament in Qatar, you were absolutely right. I didn't think you knew that it was going to be an eagle from Retief, but what is it going to take to win this one?
ERNIE ELS: I think I said 22 start of the week, but then I changed that to 24. 22, 24, around there.

Q. The two 3-putts, was it just concentration?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, it was -- the first hole was definitely concentration. You know, should have taken my time and I didn't.
8 was try to be aggressive on the first putt, which I was; hitting eight feet by the hole from about 24 feet.
So, yeah, I would like to think it was a bit of concentration. The greens were definitely quicker. They have definitely got the rollers on them. We finished this morning and the greens are a little different pace, but I put it down to concentration.

Q. You talked the last few weeks about the three-year plan, is this the test to put it straightaway, going into the last round with a two-shot lead?
ERNIE ELS: I think it's a good start, isn't it, into the first week of a three-year stretch. You're talking about a three-year deal, you know. (Laughter).
It's a good test. It's a great golf course, isn't it. It's got a great leaderboard. The No. 1 player in the world is right there. So it's going to be a great test. You know, as I say, whatever happens, we're in it for the long haul, win or lose tomorrow, and I'll give it my best. You know, see what happens. You know, I'm in for the long haul, so to speak.

Q. Everybody is going to be looking at Tiger obviously. Will you be or will you just be able to concentrate on your own game?
ERNIE ELS: You know, it's important to play your game, to concentrate on what you do, what you have to do. I've got a good game plan as I just explained.
But, you know, in the same instance with professionals, you'd like to see what other players are doing. And especially Tiger. You know, he could be -- he could get red hot at any time and you'd like to see what's going on.
So yes, I'll be watching the leaderboard. There's other players, also. Obviously you've got to watch the No. 1 player in the world. Wouldn't you? (Laughter).

Q. How impressed were you with Ross today?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, he's got a strong game, he's got a real strong game. It must have been quite difficult for him today. I wouldn't know, but probably was a pretty difficult day for him. It's probably the biggest tournament he's led in his life, and I think he's really done well. Played very solid.
As I said, nobody else really did anything, so he's still very much in the tournament obviously. He's probably in the last group tomorrow two shots behind. He's got a strong game.

Q. Julian has come out here from Wentworth to cheer you both on, so would you like him to finish runner-up to you?
ERNIE ELS: What do you think? (Laughter) Depends on whose team he support. Julian is an Arsenal supporter. Maybe Ross is the same. I'm sure Julian is supporting Ross.

Q. Have you played with Ross before?
ERNIE ELS: No, I haven't. I haven't. I've obviously seen him come through the ranks at Wentworth the junior program, the amateur program. He's been a hell of a talent for such a long time and it's great to see him play great golf. It's always been in the card. Hard worker.

Q. You got aggressive on 17; was that because you felt you really needed to pick up a couple more strokes or you just felt so good, you thought, what the hell? (Laughter)
ERNIE ELS: I think a bit of both. I thought I needed to get a shot and thought what the hell. I had the breeze a little behind me from left-to-right. I think it's a 322 carry to the front of the green. That's a little out of my reach, but I gave it my best shot.
You know, I've been there quite a few times short right but with the flag back, I thought I would give it a go today.

Q. One thing about Ross, he was up against you and Henrik, you're not the shortest of hitters and he didn't seem fazed by us.
ERNIE ELS: He knocked it by us most of the day, or he knocked it by me most of the day. Not too many people hit it past Henrik but he was past me today.

Q. Tomorrow on the final hole, if you are leading by a stroke or if you are level with somebody, will you still go for your driver on the final hole considering what happened last year?
ERNIE ELS: You know, it depends on what the weather is like. If it the same breeze as today, definitely driver, because I can't hit my driver through the fairway. It's 282 to hit it through the fairway. If the wind is into me, I'll definitely be hitting driver.
I will not be going left; if I do go left, I miss the shot, okay. So, yeah, basically yes.

Q. We probably know the answer to this question but how would you describe your enthusiasm and your desire now to win at this point?
ERNIE ELS: Bernie, (laughter), any tournament you lead, you want to win, basically.
I don't want to think about it too much. I want to go out there and just concentrate as hard as I can and swing as good as I can every single shot and try and make a lot of birdies. And, you know, hopefully that's good enough. I've been around this game for a very long time and I've got enough experience to probably understand what to do at certain times.
You know, you're not going to win the tournament on the first hole and you've got a long process ahead of you. So I've just got to go through the process and really just hit every shot as good as I can. But I'm up for it. You know, I'm really looking forward to it and I'd like to win it pretty badly.

Q. Do you feel that last year's was a tournament victory that got away from you and does that make you sort of all the more determined to perhaps erase it this time by winning?
ERNIE ELS: I did a lot of good things last year. Obviously in the playoff I came up short. You know, it's hard to really answer that one. Whenever you come that close, you feel so many shots that got away; and if only, you know. I gave it my best shot last year and it wasn't good enough. This year I'm in with another chance and we'll give it another go.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Just before you go, could you rattle through the birdie details.
ERNIE ELS: I 3-putted the first from about 12 feet.
Then the second hole I hit 3-wood and sand iron from the rough to a foot.
Then the par 5, I hit driver and a 5-wood just through the right edge and I chipped it quite short actually and made a good 7-footer there.
And then 3-putted on 8 from 30 feet.
10, I hit a drive and a 3-iron through the green and I chipped up short again about six, seven feet but I made it.
12, I hit a drive and a 6-iron and made a long putt there. I made a good 36-, 38-foot putt there.
17, driver and pitched it from just short of the green to about three, four feet.
And then 18, I hit a driver, 5-wood and 2-putted from the back edge. That was 25, 30 feet.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.

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