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June 11, 2005

Ernie Els


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Ernie, thanks for joining us another good day for you, you're 9 under par for the tournament and one shot off the lead heading into tomorrow's final round of the Booz Allen Classic. We'll start with some opening comments.

ERNIE ELS: Well, yeah, I'm in a nice position. I played pretty well the front nine, and then on the back nine I got myself out of position a couple of times. You know, it cost me a couple of bogeys here and there, but I feel like I'm still swinging well. The putter is coming around nicely, so that's a good sign.

You know I'm one shot off the lead, many guys in it, so it should be quite an exciting day tomorrow.

Q. As many great events as you've been in and as many great tournaments you've won, do you still get excited when you get this kind of a leaderboard and this many guys in a cluster in a tournament like this?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I know, it's always exciting. I haven't been in contention for a while, so it's nice to be up there, especially on a golf course that I really like a lot.

Today they had a lot of flags in positions where you could make birdies. If they get a little bit more tricky tomorrow, you know, it could be really tough to score low tomorrow. You know, there's a lot of guys in there, a lot of great players. You know, it's anybody's golf tournament tomorrow. You've got to stay steady and it's going to be one of those classics, I guess.

Q. Just following up, I know that you are trying to shoot at the pins and you're trying to play the golf course, but do you play more aggressively knowing that the pins are set up where you know that there are other guys possibly making birdies, too? Does that force your hand a little bit?

ERNIE ELS: No. You go at flags and when they are accessible. You go at flags when you have 7 iron to a wedge, where you can pin the ball. That's when you go at flags. If you have clubs longer than that, you really want to play a little bit more save.

Today I was watching the leaderboard, but I wasn't too concerned about it, because it's still the third round. You know, you just want to stay in contention, and if it starts happening, you know, you can pull away a little bit, which it did there for a while. But then I put myself in bad position from the back nine. You know, you go at flags when you feel you have a chance to stop the ball. Otherwise, you play away.

Q. Surprised to see Tom Kite in here, leading the tournament, after three rounds?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I think so.

Q. What do you think?

ERNIE ELS: I wouldn't lie to you, you know. (Laughter) you know, it's a great story. I think it's wonderful. That is what makes this game so great. You bring a golf tournament to a golf course like this, which is an old classic, and experience is a huge factor. Tom obviously is still striking it great, and obviously making some putts this week. I think it's a great story.

Q. In terms of the greens drying out a little bit, didn't seem like they really were. You had a couple shots from the rough that I think you expected to release but didn't. It still hasn't dried up at all really, has it?

ERNIE ELS: You know, I'm using some new sand irons this week, Vokey got this new spin wedge, and it's unbelievable how this thing is spinning out of the rough. On the front nine, I hit some out of the rough and it just stopped dead. You know, the greens are firming up, but if you hit it in the fairway, you can still spin the ball, and that's why you still see scores under 70, so many scores under 70. If these greens were really firm, you know, I probably wouldn't have shot 68 today, you know, because you're coming out of the rough, you can't stop it. If you even if you play proper golf, you can still score here.

Q. You alluded to the fact that you weren't playing as well as you'd like to this year, here at least in the States for sure, what are you doing this week that you feel like is better going into this week, and then obviously propelling you into you into next week?

ERNIE ELS: I feel like playing this week. You know, the last two weeks I don't want to get into it. I feel like playing golf this week. I feel like I want to play well and I want to hit the golf shots. It's a funny thing, if you want to do something, you know, you do it, you do it properly.


End of FastScripts.

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