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June 21, 2007

Ernie Els


SCOTT CROCKETT: Ernie, thanks as always for coming in to join us, a very good morning for you, 5-under par 67. We maybe should have been talking to you about half an hour, 45 minutes earlier than this with a little bit of a rain delay there but apart from that, pretty pleased with this morning.
ERNIE ELS: Yes, thank you. That was a decent start to my tournament. We had beautiful weather conditions this morning except for the last half hour of our round. I played pretty solid. I think I just hit one bad drive on the 15th hole. I pulled it left and I had an unplayable lie near a tree, and I had to take a drop and knocked it on the green and made two putts for five.
But the rest, I kept it in play and hit a lot of greens and made a putt here or there, and it was a nice, enjoyable round, especially coming from last week.
SCOTT CROCKETT: I think you said to the TV guys, there that perhaps you maybe would have been one better if you had not had the delay; that the delay knocked you out a little bit.
ERNIE ELS: Well, I think we were kind of -- we knew there was a storm coming. All three of us were thinking, let's try and finish this hole here, because it looked pretty bad, and you never know with these things; maybe it could be all day. We didn't want to do that.
As it turned out, the storm came through quickly. But yeah, it was pretty ugly when we played the ninth hole so I was just fortunate to make a 5 and not make anything worse than that.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Before we take some questions, fill us in on your details, starting with your second, No. 11.
ERNIE ELS: I hit a good drive and 4-iron for my second shot and 2-putted 45, 50 feet.
SCOTT CROCKETT: And eagle on 18.
ERNIE ELS: That was a turning point. I hit a drive and a green iron into that green-side bunker just left of the hole. It was a beautiful lie and I was trying to get it close but it wept in. Made eagle there. Made the turn at 2-under.
3, I hit a nice 8-iron from 170 yards and made about a 7-, 8-footer there for birdie.
5, I went for the green with a driver and made it on the green and 2-putted from 25 feet for birdie.
6, I hit a drive into the right rough, fortunate, got a pretty good lie and hit my second shot with a 6-iron on to the green and 2-putted from way out from about 50 feet.

Q. Where exactly where are you on the last hole?
ERNIE ELS: I hit a 3-wood off the tee and I hit it just left off the fairway. And I laid up with an 8-iron to about 120 yard from the fairway and then hit a wedge into the green and not a very good shot, it was about 25 feet away. We stopped play and I hit my second shot. So we had lunch, went out, hit a wedge and 2-putted.

Q. Any comments regarding the course conditions and the rough?
ERNIE ELS: No. The rough is really tough. I played with Martin, and he was playing beautiful, and he hit one bad shot, that was on No. 7, our 16th hole and went left. He couldn't get the ball out of the rough. He made 7. So I was trying to keep it out of that high stuff.
But the greens are in great condition. The greens are fairly flat and they are a nice speed. So if you keep hitting the greens, you're going to make some putts. The greens were really nice.

Q. Was last week really torture? I know you're waiting for something to spark in your game, and it obviously wasn't going to happen there.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I didn't hit the ball too badly, hit quite a few fairways and greens but my putting was just awful. If you're off on any part of your game, it was really going to be exposed at Oakmont.
But I played the course basically the way I played it in '94. I hit really similar shots off the tees. But if you missed a shot there, you were done. It was very, very tough, but it was fair.
It was nice to come here and putt on fairly flat greens, because I need to get my putter going.

Q. Is your knee still bothering you?
ERNIE ELS: No. I don't even think about it.

Q. Can you comment on Martin and his game?
ERNIE ELS: I think Martin is a great talent for your country. I think he's got a very nice attitude towards the game. You know, he's very calm. He hits the ball very long. I like the shape that he plays. You know, he plays left-to-right most of his shots; and if I can give him any advice, it's not to listen to too many coaches to try to hit the ball right-to-left because he's so natural left-to-right. If he just keeps going, he's going to be a future star, definitely. I was very impressed with him.

Q. What's the schedule between now and Carnoustie?
ERNIE ELS: I've got a couple of weeks off. I'm going back to south Africa for a week. We're flying out Sunday night. So then I'll come back to England and spent a week there before we go to Loch Lomond and the British Open and have another week off after that and start off on the FedExCup thingy -- (laughter) yeah, exactly. I think I'm going to play six out of seven weeks and try to make some silly points. Funny that you've got to play to make points now, but anyway.

Q. How did you play in the last Open at Carnoustie?
ERNIE ELS: I think I finished in the mid 20s, but I just hope it's not like that again. That's probably the toughest major I've ever played. I mean, including Bethpage and including Winged Foot and Oakmont. Last time we were at Carnoustie, it was kind of nasty. We'll see when we get there. I might even go up there before.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks again.

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