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March 3, 2005

Ernie Els


GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, well, Ernie, you may have flown here economy, but that looked to be first-class today. (Laughter.)

ERNIE ELS: No back of the bus anymore.

No, yeah, thank you. I had a nice time. A bit of a rough start there, I made some good par putts on the first two holes. Hit it through the green on the first and missed my putt short and made about a 6-, 7-footer down the hill. And the second I probably hit it near the green and I pulled it left into the desert and I had to make another 6-footer for par there. I think making those two putts on reasonably easy holes for par, you know, was good. Not only was it par, it was good pars. So I felt good about that, so it was a good start in a way.

Then, you know, I found my feet a little bit and then played some solid golf. Back nine, I was very aggressive on the back nine. I was hitting the driver every hole and you know, I didn't hit many fairways, but I felt I hit it solid. I got some good lies.

So all in all, it was a good day's work. It was work today, but I'm pleased with the score, obviously, 66 in the first round is a good score.

GORDON SIMPSON: Do you think you were maybe feeling too defensive, is that what you were doing?

ERNIE ELS: No, you want to play your game, you know. I had a chat with Jos this morning and we were talking all week about my year, where we should go, and if I see a shot, I want to hit that shot and that's kind of what I did and I saw a lot of drivers today. So I just stuck with my game plan and went with it.

Q. The par 5s have not always been great for you here, have you changed strategy?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I scored well on them today. I hit a really good tee shot on 18 and just had a middle iron into the green and that's always nice to hang in there with a middle iron. So I drove it well there.

On the 13th, the other par 5, I was aggressive but I missed the fairway and I had a middle iron again -- well, actually a long iron. I had a 5-iron in there.

3, they made three a lot longer, and I had a 2-iron again but I was off the green. My short game was pretty good. You're right, I think if you don't make 4s on a lot of these 5s, you feel like you're losing ground. You've really got to make up your score here and maybe in the last couple of years I haven't played the 5s that well and maybe that's why I came up short.

It also depends on the pin placements. Tomorrow I see they are short, so it's going to make it more difficult. Just got to be careful on that.

Q. Has it been a case in point of you recently not being aggressive when perhaps you should have been and it costing you?

ERNIE ELS: No, I can't say that.

Q. So what prompted it?

ERNIE ELS: No, I think, you know, Melbourne, the last event, I didn't play a great back nine, but I don't think I was ever hanging back. Maybe on the greens here and there. But you know, today's game plan really worked out well. You know, tomorrow let's see what happens tomorrow. But I just want to go out there and if I see something, I want to do that. I want to go with my first kind of thought and that's normally the right thought.

Q. This chat with Jos that prompted this see the shot and hit it, is that a slight change from previous years?

ERNIE ELS: No, not really. I think it's just best back to what I have been doing. When I played well, and I see clearly what I want to do, I see clearly where the ball's going, you know, in fact, my pre-shot routine is very clear. I think you've got to find a cure for what I've done, I've played well, but I haven't won, so why. I think a lot of times maybe I second guess a little bit -- we all do, don't get me wrong, but I just need to really be very clear on what I want to do and go with that plan.

So it's nothing really new. It's just, I just want to get back to basics again.

Q. A lot of guys will think, I want to hit driver or 3-wood off this tee; you're saying you get to the tee and then make up your mind?

ERNIE ELS: I know the golf course so well, so for instance on 9 today, Ricci wanted me to go with a 3-wood, I've been hitting driver there almost every time I've played before there, but we just felt, take the water out of play, don't try and hit the perfect shot. Later, I went with a 5-iron and hit it to four feet.

So I just want to -- if I feel like hitting driver on 9 tomorrow and I feel it's right, I'm going to go hit driver. It's not like you get on a shot and you go with it. You think about it, but I feel that -- like on 18 today, I had 169 that's normally almost an 8-iron for me; I hit 6-iron. I just felt like chipping a little 6-iron up there. Just play the shot. I feel that I have the shot; so I have to use the shots that I have.

GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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