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October 5, 2007

Ernie Els


SCOTT CROCKETT: Ernie, thanks, as always, for coming in to join us. Two opening rounds of 67, we can see you're fairly satisfied with that one off the lead in the tournament. I take it you're fairly happy with the first two days?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I've got to be happy. You know, it's kind of a test of patience out there today, wasn't it. You know, we all felt that with the weather conditions as perfect as it was today, you know, obviously you want to get up and shoot something low. I made quite a few birdies on the front nine. I've been struggling with a little knot in my back and it kind of worked itself out through the turn.
I didn't hit the ball all that great going out, but that was the in my mind today -- downwind, whatever it was, and I went out in 4-under and coming back, I really started feeling much better with my swing, like No. 12, and I hit a lot better golf shots coming in. But unfortunately you know, it was the toughest stretch of the golf course.
But anyway, so looking back at any round, I've got to be satisfied with 67. I missed a couple of putts here and there, but you know, as I say, I wasn't really on form, you know, the front ten holes.
SCOTT CROCKETT: We all know from the past how much you enjoy playing with your dad, and the same again this year. You're doing very well in that, as well.
ERNIE ELS: My dad's been awesome. He made a birdie on the fourth hole -- and a birdie for eagle and he made some other pars and stuff. It looked like I was screwing up, he was there. So we had a better ball of 63.
You know, it just doesn't get better than this, playing with your dad at St. Andrews on a day like today. It's unbelievable.

Q. Have you and your dad ever won with the Pro-Am?
ERNIE ELS: No, we never have. I think there was one year we were very close, we were like second or third. No, we've never done that. But we've made it to the Sunday every time.

Q. St. Andrews, test of patience?
ERNIE ELS: You know, St. Andrews, you come into the greens with a lot of short irons, especially on a day like today. Again, at St. Andrews, you never really hit it to a gift. You're always working for something around this golf course. And you know, you just feel like you might not ever have a day like this again and you'd better take advantage.
So you try to push for a good score but you also don't want to get ahead of yourself and in your own way. So sometimes when those birdie putts don't drop, you've just got to be patient and wait for them to come.

Q. Some of the best conditions today?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, we've had some times here when it was just brutal. You guys know.
But we've also had quite a few years where you get nice days, maybe not as good as today, but you get good days. I guess this is early October; it's their Indian summer.

Q. What do you think about the new anti-doping policy?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I think, you know, to be like other sports, I guess it had to be brought in. I'm for it. You know, it's fine. I think to have golf at the same level at other sports, to keep it clean, I'm all for it. I'm sure nothing will be found, and if something is found, you know, we'll look at it and you know, see what you can't take and not take. But I'm sure the guys know what they can and not take. I'm sure an Advil is still fine to take but I guess taking steroids, I think we all know you shouldn't take that or even other drugs.
So, you know, it's fine. It will be interesting to see what comes out of it. I don't think anything will but you know, just to keep it clean and make sure that golf is the gentleman's game that it is, that's fine.

Q. (Regarding Darren Clarke).
ERNIE ELS: Last night on the range -- he's such a good player and he's such a natural, strong player. Obviously he's a good friend of mine. You know, we live close to each other. You feel for the guy. I've struggled, we've all struggled and he's had a bit of a tough year, and especially in his personal life, it's got to be very tough to really concentrate on golf.
It seems like he really wants to play well again, and you know, playing with a guy for such a long time, you know exactly where you might see something a little different than normal. You know, I just mentioned that to him and he played great today. I mean, he could have shot anything; he was 7-under through nine.

Q. Is that the nature of your friendship --
ERNIE ELS: Absolutely. I think I've played with Darren for 15, 16 years, and he's helped me in the past when I had some tough times. That's the way it is out there.

Q. Will you look at changing your schedule if you find yourself in the running for Order of Merit?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, unfortunately I don't think it's going to change my schedule whatever happens. But I was fortunate enough to have won a couple of times.
Obviously this is a big week and next week is a big week for me. So, yeah, I've had a little peek at it. I've obviously got to hopefully win here and next week to really have a chance. I see Padraig played well today and Justin also played well, so basically have to win this week and next week.
But I've committed to other tournaments and I've committed to Singapore and I'm not going to change my schedule unfortunately.

Q. (About speaking with Gary Player regarding drug policy).
ERNIE ELS: I mean, obviously last week we were together all week and we had a couple of chats and he basically just said that he -- he said to get to where we are now, you know, the tours have agreed that there is some kind of a drug testing policy now and it will be a random test. We got a letter last week from the U.S. Tour. From next year they will randomly test players.
You know, if you're taking something for whatever ailment you have, you've got to submit it to them and see if it's on the list or not on the list. If it not on the list you've got to get off it. That's basically what happened and Gary, that's what he meant, but it came out a little funny.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Ernie, thank you very much. Well done.

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