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April 20, 2005

Ernie Els


Q. Looking forward to a good week?

ERNIE ELS: Yes, absolutely. I have never been to Beijing. So it is a new experience for me although I have been playing the Johnnie Walker Classic since 1993 and I think I have only missed one or two since then so it has been a really good tournament for me. I won it a couple of times so my record is not too bad in this event. I have also played quite a lot in Asia so it interesting for me to have the two combined here this week.

Q. Have you had a chance to play the course?

ERNIE ELS: No, I could have played yesterday but it was blowing a little bit so I didn't. But I will play in the Pro-Am today and see what the course is like. It is a Jack Nicklaus designed course and I have half an idea about his design of golf courses so we will see what it is like but what I have seen, it looks pretty nice and in good condition.

Q. How good does it feel to be getting back into tournament action after what was a disappointing week for you in Augusta?

ERNIE ELS: Obviously my game wasn't too good at Augusta. I had a couple of technical faults, the posture wasn't too good and I spoke to David Leadbetter since then and there are a couple of things I have to work on. It is a bit unfortunate because I was playing a lot of good golf but I think when I got sick the week before the Masters, that was bad timing and I wasn't quite myself at the Masters. But I will try and get better and work on those things that I have to work on.

Q. Were you sick because of all the travelling? Has this made you think about changing your playing schedule before Majors?

ERNIE ELS: I guess there is a good argument on that and it is easy to blame it on the schedule. It seems like, especially in America, the journalists have been playing a lot on that. But I have always said that I have done what I am doing for 12 years now and my record is not too bad. I haven't been sick like that for many years and it was just a bug I guess, a virus, but it is one of those things. We can sit and argue about this for hours and I will listen to what you have to say and I will tell you what I am saying, so that is that.

Q. You had a week at home in London before this week, did that help you recover?

ERNIE ELS: I had a great time in London, I haven't been there since November. So to go on holiday there was great. I practiced just the one day -- the Friday -- and I have some pictures that David sent me on the internet and I saw some things that I have to work on and I have a couple of weeks now to do that, but it is tough to practice when the wind is blowing like that. But I will keep practicing when I can and try to get better and get comfortable with the changers I have to make so that I can get back into contention.

Q. Your stature in the game now, do you attribute that to the fact that you are a truly world player?

ERNIE ELS: I have won tournaments in Europe, Asia and America and all over the place so I think playing around the world has really helped my game, playing in different conditions, and playing against different fields and different players, not just one-dimensional golf, playing in different in conditions and weather. The travelling is the hard part, no question about it, but coming from South Africa, I have said many times that it is natural to do what I am doing. We have always travelled and I have always found it hard just to concentrate on playing in just one place. It is easy to go and base yourself in the States and play golf, but that is not quite me at the moment.

Q. Most of the top 20 are world players now.

ERNIE ELS: It is interesting because I haven't really looked at it that way, but it is interesting as opposed to just concentrating on just one Tour. I think it has a lot to do with the talent of those guys you have just mentioned. It is good to see players that good support the game of golf around the world. I think it is important for the growth of the game and it is important for the future of the game. Look at China here. Next year or the year after that they might have ten events being played here and these players certainly help these Tours.

Q. Where is your favourite place in the world to play golf?

ERNIE ELS: I would like to say Augusta is my favourite course because it is always beautiful and they do a really good job there, but I also think Scotland, and Muirfield is a great course. But it is hard to pick just one, it is easier to pick two or three. As for my favourite area in the world, it depends on my game that week. If my game is good I can play good anywhere, if it is not so good, I am not sure. If you look at the ratio of tournaments played and won, I think I have won 15 events on the US Tour and played about 200 events so that is not a great average there. Outside of that, I have won 40 events, so I guess you could say outside somewhere.

Q. What is your ideal preparation before a tournament?

ERNIE ELS: Normally we get to the tournaments on a Tuesday but it was a little different this week because I got in on Sunday night and I had to do an SAP company day on Monday. Normally I would play maybe nine holes on the Tuesday and do a lot of practice but with the weather yesterday, I thought maybe today was a better day to do that. Normally you give yourself two and a half days to get ready. Obviously with the travelling, I have come from London and there is a seven hour time change and that takes a bit of time to get over that. That is kind of the hardest bit but other than that you just take it like any other tournament you play.

Q. Will a good result here help the regrouping process after Augusta?

ERNIE ELS: What I am working on now, I have to take it day by day. What I am working on may be a little bit uncomfortable and take a little while but I have to go through those changes and when it gets comfortable, it is all systems go again. But who knows, maybe it will work this week. I had a fairly good day on Monday and I practiced last Friday on the same stuff so it is already starting to fall into place. It is not huge changes but in the game of golf an inch here and there feels huge so we will see how it goes.

Q. Have your children shown any interest in playing golf?

ERNIE ELS: On Friday, Samantha came with me to the golf course for a while and I got her some little clubs so she is hitting the ball already. But she has got a tough temperament! She is a perfectionist already. I don't think Samantha will take it too seriously as she has some other interests already but I think she will play, she is quite a natural. My son Ben, I'm not going to push him into doing anything. I want him to enjoy it and we all know how tough it is to play at the highest level but if they want to do it, it will be great. I think they will at least play good social golf.

End of FastScripts.

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