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October 14, 2007

Ernie Els


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Ernie, many congratulations on a record seventh title, HSBC World Match Play title. And I think you summed it up best at the presentation; if you could transport Wentworth everywhere you go, you would be a very happy man.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, it's been a great week. Obviously, you know, to win this tournament seven times, I never thought I would ever do that. Yeah, it's amazing. It's wonderful.
I played really well this afternoon. A bit of a problem with my back this morning. Wasn't hitting the ball very crisply, very solidly, but my putter was really hot this morning. I think I made eight birdies this morning, and basically kept me in front. And I had a bit of treatment and a nice lunch, and I felt a lot more loose this afternoon, and I think it showed. I played quite solidly.
GORDON SIMPSON: Where does this one stand? You've had two batches of three, and then this one.
ERNIE ELS: Well, this one is -- I don't know how to put it. But I mean, this has been a very important win to myself and my career. Obviously the world No. 1 wasn't here, but we had some really fine players here this week. You really had to play some good golf to get through.
It's just so satisfying to win a tournament. And it's not a stroke-play event but it's a match-play event, the World Match Play. I've always been a fan of this kind of match play, because you've really got to play well all day long to beat your guy. You know, I've always liked this format.

Q. Did you think the third hole this afternoon was a key moment?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, that's one of a few loose drives this afternoon. I drove it way right, and didn't have much of a shot. Tried to hit a low 3-iron up there and hit some branches. The ball dropped down, and, you know, I hit an 8-iron to my third shot. I made a big putt there. Angel hit a beautiful drive, missed it to the right, didn't hit a very good chip shot, and I walked away with a win there. Looked like I was going to have a certain loss.

Q. Classic match-play swing.
ERNIE ELS: Exactly.

Q. You said this is a really important win in terms of your career. Could you maybe expand on that and explain why it's so important for you?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I've played well. You know, I've played some good golf the last two years. It seems like I'm a very patient guy but I'm quite an impatient person when it comes to getting results. And I haven't had the results this year go my way either in Europe or America or wherever I've played. I've either lost in playoffs or finished second or thereabouts.
So to get a win, and to play the way I did this week, is really satisfying. And hopefully this will, you know, open up the doors for me, basically, for some other wins.
Obviously, you know, world No. 1, Tiger, he's at the moment, you know, out there. But I just want to keep playing this way, and I've said it for quite a while now.

Q. Ernie, was it even more satisfying given the fact that you told us early in the week that what happened at St. Andrews, you put behind you, but you can really bury it with a win; is that even more important?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, it was difficult, obviously, you know that, Sunday afternoon, going to the airport and flying down here; it wasn't a happy plane ride.
You know, I don't care how many years you are in this profession. If you ever scuff up like that, it certainly sits in your mind for a while and it certainly did in mine. You try to downplay it and get on with the week, and that's what you do and that's what I did.

Q. I think overall the calibre of play was probably the best it's been in several years; does that make it more satisfying?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I think the golf course has something to do with that, you know, with perfect greens and the conditions were quite soft, so you can really be aggressive. I think today was my best day. I probably scored -- it's one of my best scoring days was today. I made 12 birdies.
Yeah, I think there's some really good golf this week, and I think we had some really exciting players here this week. We had some young players, some new faces, and some players that you are going to see into the future for a long time. That's what this tournament is all about. It's brought out some new faces and showed that to the world.

Q. If you had to list the things that you've achieved in your career, would this stack up just below the three majors?
ERNIE ELS: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think majors, obviously they stand on their own. But to win at a prestigious tournament like this -- I'd like to think it's prestigious. To win this tournament, it is wonderful, especially seven times. I'm just looking at all of these names, Hale Irwin, David Graham, Seve Ballesteros; it's a very international kind of flavour to this tournament.

Q. I know you're looking forward to the Masters; can you think at this stage about that and the way you're playing?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I think we've been trying to start thinking about the Masters ever since we finished the PGA at Southern Hills. I had a good major there. You know, right there, I started thinking about getting my game together for the Masters.
I think this year has been a weird year. I changed equipment in the first quarter of the year. I've had to get used to, you know, different clubs and different stuff. So it's been a big year, and I think obviously if I can play this way, I'm getting very comfortable with my equipment.
You know, next year, I don't think I'm going to have major changes hopefully, and just play golf.

Q. Are you surprised that you're heading the Order of Merit now given what you would call a weird year?
ERNIE ELS: You know, I think if you look at my performances on The European Tour, when I've played, I've played as I said, not too bad. I've finished in the Top-10 a lot of times and obviously that gets you up the Money List. I missed one cut at the Masters. But I haven't won as I've said.
I think I've played well in the tournaments that have a lot of money in them and this one definitely has a lot of money in it. I'm not sure how far I am ahead. Hopefully some of the outsiders play well and keep Padraig and Justin honest.

Q. You're 270,000 ahead.
ERNIE ELS: How many tournaments left?

Q. Padraig is playing one and Justin is playing two. So are you going to Portugal?
ERNIE ELS: I think it's too late to commit now, isn't it? (Laughing).

Q. On that subject, you spoke that you're contracted to Singapore, but the fact that you're so disappointed with that clash makes it sound as though you really want to win the Order of Merit; whereas previously we weren't sure whether you did or not.
ERNIE ELS: You know, I think in previous years, the clash was the TOUR Championship. Now that the TOUR Championship is in September, I would have thought that, hey, this is going to be nice. I might play some tournaments that I've missed in the past. You know, unfortunately now with Valderrama not there, Jaime Patiño, I haven't been to his place in ten years. It's a great course and it's a great end-of-season event.
But, you know, how can I say it; the end of the year you've got the wheelbarrow out, too; you want to cash in a little bit. It just happened that this tournament is the same week. I didn't know before we signed that last year. It's unfortunate. I don't know how it slipped their radar.

Q. It's a shame for Volvo, too, isn't it.
ERNIE ELS: Exactly, with Volvo and Jaime Patiño, and I'm sure the Tour -- I'm not trying to blame it on anybody. Obviously somehow it slipped through. You know, Singapore is a big week now. They have got really some big players going there. They are really spending money to improve the tournament and getting the players there. You know, that's why I'm going there.

Q. Are you going to Paris tonight?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, if we can make it to the final question, yeah. (Laughter).
GORDON SIMPSON: On that note, thank you very much, Ernie.

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