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August 12, 2007

Ernie Els


KELLY ELBIN: Ernie Els, ladies and gentlemen, in with a 4-under par 66 in the final round of the 89th PGA Championship. Ernie has finished 72 holes at 5-under par 275.
Ernie, some thoughts on the play, out in 32 and then back in 34.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I played really well today. I kind of got off to the start I needed to get off to, and you know, just the putt on 9 and the putt on 11 and the drive on 16, if I could have those three back, it would have been really perfect, a perfect round of golf.
But played really nice and, you know, at least I had half a go at it.
KELLY ELBIN: This is Ernie's fourth Top-5 finish in the PGA Championship. If you would, please, go through your birdies and bogeys.
ERNIE ELS: Do I need to? I birdied 3. I drove it in the fairway, hit a wedge, made a good putt there from about 20 feet, 25 feet.
No. 5, I drove it in the rough, got it out, wedged it to about ten feet.
On the 9th, I hit 5-wood to about 20 feet, again made a good putt up the hill.
10, I went for the green, just short left, pitched it up to about three feet.
Then 12, I drove it in the right rough, hit a pretty good shot, went through the green in the bunker. Came up short with my bunker shot, missed the putt from about 12 feet.
Birdied 13. Driver, 8-iron on the green, two putts there for birdie.
14 was probably the shot of the day for me. I hit a 5-iron to about three feet.
16, I pulled it left, chipped out, hit it on and 2-putt.
KELLY ELBIN: Thank you. Let's open for questions, please.

Q. How difficult was that putt on 11? It seemed like it was close to the hole, how did you feel? Did you think it was going to be?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I hit such a good shot in there. I really went at the flag and hit such a good shot and then to have such a tough putt, it's one of those things.
I just hit it a little too firm. I thought I got a very good line on it, but I just hit it too firm. I hit a very poor putt on 9 where I hit it very soft, so I guess it's a bit of a reaction still. Just hit it a little too firm.

Q. You looked very determined today. Wondering just is your game back on a really good arc back to where you really think you should be and need to be?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I mean, still not quite where I want to be but I'm getting there.
I want to play at a really high level and, you know, that's my plan.
I've played two good majors this year. I've had -- especially a chance at the Open, a really good chance which I didn't quite take. But to come back from six back against the world No. 1 was always going to be tough to do, but, you know, I gave it a good shot. And the way I played today in the final day and the way I played at the Open in the final day, that's the way I want to play in major championships.
I'm looking forward to it now.
KELLY ELBIN: Three weeks ago Ernie tied for fourth at the Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Q. There are times when people come in here after Tiger has won a major and he just went out and beat everybody. Do you feel like you guys really put up the fight that you wanted to, and that maybe you did some things that kept you from winning today?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I mean, every day I've made a bunch of birdies. You know, I haven't done that in any majors that I've played recently.
So, you know, there's a lot of good in my game. As I just said, you know, I'm not quite there where I think I can be. But if I get up to this next level where I want to be, maybe I can at least give him a real go, a run for his money. Because somebody needs to step up; he's playing some awesome golf.
My Callaway equipment, I'm starting to feel comfortable with it. It's been a big change for me this year, I changed before the Masters, and I'm starting to feel comfortable with that. My putting is better, my short game is coming around. I just have to keep going on this trend and hopefully start giving him a go soon.

Q. Is it a matter of down the stretch, this course, just not a lot of birdie holes, to try to make up shots on him?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, exactly. This is the final day. They had the flags in all of the corners today, so it was really difficult getting to the flags. The last four holes are really difficult. 17 is really the only hole that can give you a birdie.
Being behind, you're still trying to push, but it's difficult making birdies down the stretch. It's a good finish.

Q. Can you talk about the putt on 11, and also 16, were you trying too hard to make something happen at that point?
ERNIE ELS: As I said, I think the putt on 9, I was a bit tentative down the hill. Hit it too soft and missed that. Birdied 10.
11 I hit a really quality shot in there to six or seven feet. You know, I just hit that one too firm. I wanted to be positive but it was just a tough left-to-right breaker. I just hit it a little too firm.
And then 16, it was just a bad swing. I was trying to hit a hard cut off the bunker, and then I didn't quite finish my backswing and flipped at it a little and hit a poor tee shot there.
But as I said before, those three shots, you know, probably cost me. But, you know, still played a pretty good round. (Laughing).

Q. How big of a factor was the heat this week for you?
ERNIE ELS: Today was warm. I felt it today. The whole week was okay, but some of those holes out there today, I thought I was going to go down, I tell you. It was really warm today. I don't know what it was today, but today felt the warmest of the whole week.

Q. You knew you had to attack today; what holes did your strategy change to accomplish some of those birdies?
ERNIE ELS: I don't think I changed. I was pretty solid with my thinking and my execution. I didn't change it too much. I was trying to be aggressive, but be sensible. You can't go at a flag like on 6, the par 3, the flag is way left. If you take it left you're making double. So I was really playing, you know, almost want to say smart golf. But I was trying to stay aggressive, stay with my game plan and just kind of get myself in position and try and have a putt at birdies and eagles.

Q. The driver on 10?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I did that the last three days, the first day I was playing in the morning, I don't think you want to start a championship going at a green, you know what I mean. (Smiling).
That's the way I played it all week.

Q. Just getting back to making a go at Tiger, the last several years, guys have taken turns almost doing that, and you've had your time doing that a few years back before you got hurt, I'm just wondering how much you crave being that guy again and kind of taking it forward a little bit because nobody has really made that next step like Mickelson had the chance at the Open at Winged Foot; you've had your chances as well. How much do you crave that?
ERNIE ELS: Well, you know, it's a tough thing to do, but that is not really my motivation.
My motivation is to get the best out of me again, you know, and I was this close (inches) in 2004. Obviously then my injury came and the rest is history. But I was that close to being No. 1 and deserving No. 1, because I came close to winning two or three majors.
But, you know, that's history. I want to just get to that level and get better. That's what I want to do. I want to play this type of golf day-in and day-out in majors. And it's saying a lot, even doing it with Tiger, with the crowd, with everything, that's the type of golf I want to play whoever I play with.
That's why I said to you guys, probably forgot about it already, but it's a three-year deal. I knew it's not going to happen overnight. The equipment change and the caddie change; there's been a lot of changes. Some things just take a little bit more time and I just want to still believe that I can become No. 1 and I can play the way I want to play at the end of the day. So that's enough said I think.

Q. You said before that you're just a little shy of that next level. I just want to find out, what's going to have to happen to get you to the next level, and do you believe more in yourself as Major Champion again after the past month?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, first of all, I do believe that I'm working on the right stuff, and I've made strides, especially the last couple of months.
But you know, you just -- I just need to keep working on it. I just keep grinding it out, you know. I'm happy with my equipment, the way things are going.
We've got the FedEx thingy coming up; I'd like to play well there and finish my year off here in America. I need to start, you know, basically winning tournaments, and that will create more confluence, and winning becomes almost a habit; look at Tiger.
I had a couple of years where I won a lot of tournaments, and you start feeling a lot more comfortable on Sundays and Saturdays and weekends, so that's what I'm working on. Thanks, guys.
KELLY ELBIN: Ernie Els, thank you very much.

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