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February 6, 2008

Ernie Els


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks, as always for coming in to join us and welcome to the Emaar-MGF Indian Masters. You are renowned as a world player, Ernie, and this is another venue to add to your C.V. Give us your thoughts on being to India for the first time.
ERNIE ELS: I'm really excited to be here. Just played the course, the full 18 holes, and I think it's a wonderful golf course, old-fashioned course. We've really got to shape the ball around the golf course and really think about the shots that you want to use.

Q. Do you have any courses planned for India yourself?
ERNIE ELS: We haven't got anything signed or sealed but we have the wine coming in to India now and that is nice, it was my first visit to India last year to set that up, but we are talking to people and we will see what we can get going here.

Q. Didn't quite get the win last weekend but there must have been a few positives to come out of last week for you?
ERNIE ELS: Yes although it was disappointing to say the least. The second shot on the 18th, the wind must have been really gusting because it came up way short but it was a disappointing final nine holes there and I think the tenth, 11th and 12th probably cost me the tournament there, missing a few key putts. Losing to the World's Number One is no disgrace but it doesn't make it better. I had a chance and I probably should have won but I didn't but I feel my game will be good this year. I have done a lot of work and for my first event of the year to come that close is good, and obviously bad too, but I think I will have more chances like that in the future.

Q. Are you better now at not beating yourself up?
ERNIE ELS: No I am still pretty hard on myself. The one I messed up last year in South Africa too was really bad. I could have laid up there but made a bad decision on the second shot there and paid the penalty. But last week was my first event after a long break but still not winning there when I felt I should have won was tough to take. But it was the first event of the year - I can't kill myself over it.

Q. Did you expect what you found on the golf course, have you played anything like before?
ERNIE ELS: I have played a lot of courses around the world obviously and this course for some reason reminds me a little of South AfricERNIE ELS: The vegetation and some of the trees are very similar to what we have in South AfricERNIE ELS: The lay-out is very old style and design which I really like and I enjoy the course. You never play two holes which are similar and you never really see any other holes out there when you are playing which I like too. You have to put your ball in play and while, with technology, the course will be playing a little bit shorter than you would have liked it to play, you have to put the ball in play. The greens are very well designed too and it is well bunkered. It is a true old style golf course which I really enjoy.

Q. Will you be hitting many drivers this week?
ERNIE ELS: Today I hit a couple more because I am trying out a new driver but I will be hitting a lot of three woods and three irons and maybe some five woods from tees. I am using the new square driver today and I hit it really nicely on the back nine.

Q. Was it true you were playing for a Honda motorcycle today?
ERNIE ELS: Well ,I was playing with the Honda man today so I was playing for a Honda I suppose!! But we halved it on the last hole so I'll take the back wheel!!

Q. If you had won a Honda, would you have chanced driving it on the roads here?
ERNIE ELS: Eh...no! I don't think I'd get any insurance at all if I drove on these roads on a motorcycle!
Q. The Majors are obviously your focus this year but is Asia in your plans at all?
ERNIE ELS: My schedule this year is designed purely to get the best out of my game and I am really looking forward to a couple of weeks off after this - go back to London for a week and then to South Africa and then I will be in Florida and America right through the US Masters so I will be playing quite a bit of golf in the US and it will be the same around the other Majors out there. I might be playing out there towards the end of the year though, obviously Singapore and maybe one more, so who knows, maybe I'll come back for the Indian Open, we'll see.

Q. Are you prepared for the noise that will be here this week for people who are not used to golf and not used to seeing such big stars as yourself here?
ERNIE ELS: Well I think compared to the cricketers we are pretty small here but it was quite nice with the people out there today and yesterday taking pictures and saying how glad they were to see us here in the flesh so it was nice to see their excitement. They seem very golf knowledgable and I am sure we are in for a good week. I hear they are opening up the gates so I am sure we will have a lot of people here and it is always nice to play in front of a lot of people.

Q. We have the Race to Dubai, the Desert Swing, the three Tours out here talking about joining forces, do you ever envisage a time you would not play at all on the US PGA Tour and instead play a something like a world tour?
ERNIE ELS: Well, you can talk about a World Tour but The European Tour is pretty much a world tour. I think they have done a good job, done their homework through the years and made good relationships with other Tours and other countries and I think they have the basis of that now. Obviously if you get the purses up you will get the players to come and play there as well and it is becoming bigger. If you look at China and Asia and this region here and the Middle East, you can already play a full schedule without going to the US if you want to. But I still feel like I want to play against the best players in the world and I think they the majority of the best players in the world still play on that Tour.

Q. Can you compare China and India in golfing terms from what you've seen so far?
ERNIE ELS: They have a couple more tournaments in China and a lot more golf courses but India is right on the heels of China and growing at a very rapid pace. I feel that the Indian golfers at the moment are at a better level than the Chinese players. If you look at Jeev who has won in Japan and on The European Tour and Jyoti, Shiv doing well and Arjun playing on the US Tour, they have all broken through. But India need to start building more courses and have an infrastructure for the game and then hopefully you will be off to the races. You do play a lot of ball sports here like hockey and cricket and tennis and so the ball sense is there for the youngsters so for them to pick up golf it might be easier than it is for the youngsters in China.

Q. How do you think the weather will affect the week?
ERNIE ELS: Well if we had the fog we had this morning there is no way we could play so hopefully that will lift for tomorrow morning. But apart from that, conditions are perfect for golf, a good temperature and not much breeze, not too cold, so we should have good scoring.

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