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February 28, 2008

Ernie Els


Q. You got the day started off pretty good there, birdie at No. 10, that is not a birdie hole.
ERNIE ELS: No, it felt like an eagle, believe me. Unfortunately I 3-putted the very next hole to give it back.
Yeah, I got off to a nice start. I hit quite a few greens today. You know, a couple of loose shots here and there, but it wasn't that easy.

Q. Feel good to finally come back home and play over here on the East Coast for a little bit?
ERNIE ELS: Absolutely. But it felt like the damn West Coast this morning; it was so cold. But it's nice, we have some good, tough golf courses on this side, and I've always loved playing in Florida. Yeah, I've got a nice four-week stretch, so yeah, I'd like to get something going.

Q. How good does it feel to get a round under your belt on this golf course?
ERNIE ELS: It was important for me. Especially this is really my first full event, so to speak of the year over here, so I needed to get off to a good start. I was a little nervy this morning to force myself to get off to a good start, and I've had that now so I can start building on that.

Q. Hopefully a little bit warmer tomorrow when you tee it up?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I think it can only get warmer now. We are in South Florida, aren't we? (Laughter).

Q. An impressive number, 3-under 67 here, and you haven't seen a lot of this golf course but you managed your way around this course with a red number.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, it was pretty difficult this morning, starting on No. 10, which is the longest par 4, pretty cold. I wanted to get off to a good start. This is my first full event, you know, over here, and obviously a tough golf course, which I haven't really seen.
So I'm really pleased with the way things turned out. You know, I felt pretty comfortable out there.

Q. Your competitive first look at the Bear Trap, and you came in with a birdie on 15. Can you talk about those three holes?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, on the front nine this morning, pretty cold as I say. Just wanted to get it on dry land, especially on 15. And I probably hit my worst shot in that stretch but I made birdie on 15. I made a really long putt.
Then I parred the next couple and birdied 18. So I had a nice front nine for me, so it got me off to a good start.

Q. You talked earlier in the week about reestablishing some confidence over the next few tournaments. How important is getting that confidence or gaining some more of that confidence with this round today?
ERNIE ELS: Well, it's in the right direction, isn't it. It's a pretty tough course, par 70, pretty tough conditions. So I guess my tee-to-green game really stood up today. My putting wasn't too bad. I read the greens pretty well.
So, you know, I've got a pretty long stretch from here on in. I'm playing four weeks here in Florida, so this is at least a good step in the right direction.

Q. Cold this morning?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I brought my corduroys this morning, I never thought I would wear them in Florida but they came to good use.
Yeah, it was a pretty tough morning but I played okay. I had a great start birdieing No. 10, and had a good front nine. I went 2-under there. So I kept the ball out of most of the big trouble. There's some really big holes out here, and putted my way around the course quite well.

Q. With the limited time that you've had on this course, you're kind of learning as you go, can you take us through what it's going to be working on for you?
ERNIE ELS: Well, every hole is its own little golf course. They have got some great holes out here. It's a very strong golf course. If you miss it on the wrong side, you can really make big numbers, so that was in my mind this morning to play away from some of the trouble.
And then you've got to up-and-down the ball. But it's a great driving course. You know, if you're on your game here this week, it will reward good play. So if I can keep this up, you know, I might have a chance on Sunday.

Q. Earlier this week you said about playing and getting back into the swing of things, learning to putt and play well in pressure situations. You bogeyed 5 and came back and birdied 6.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, you have to come back from those. I made a couple of mistakes -- you're going to make mistakes but it's how you bounce back from mistakes. As I say it was a very important round for me this morning to really get myself going in the right direction on the Florida Swing.
Hopefully that gives me a little bit better confidence. My swing feels okay, so I'm confident with that, and see where we go.

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