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January 20, 2005

Ernie Els


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you Ernie for joining us for a few minutes here at the Buick Invitational. Five birdies in a row, I guess that felt pretty good.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, it felt great. I had it going there for a while and I was looking really good there. I just kept on making putts. I hit some good shots but I kept on making putts. That was the thing that I was really concerned about was trying to make putts on these greens, but I seem to have putted well today.

I made nine birdies, and unfortunately two bogeys, two very soft bogeys, one on the par-5 9th where I drove it perfectly. I just, you know, didn't hit a good second shot and had a bit of a bad break. Went right into the lip of the bunker and I made 6 there.

Then I 3-putted on my 17th hole, my eighth hole. I pulled my tee shot left and actually got fortunate that it didn't go down into the hazard. I got it on the front edge and 3-putted from there.

Other than that, I felt good today. You know, I hit a lot of greens. I hit about 15, 16 greens and as I say, I made a couple of putts.

Q. Inaudible?

ERNIE ELS: Well, it plugged right into the lip, right into the top lip and was kind of deep. I just didn't hit it hard enough and the ball just kind of got out of the bunker and then I had a long chip shot. It wasn't good.

Q. Inaudible?

ERNIE ELS: No, not at all, really. Nowadays, when I start golf tournaments, I try and play the same way. I try to give it 100% and see what goes on.

Q. Inaudible?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I think obviously if we get paired together maybe Saturday, Sunday, obviously then we're together. But, you know, even then you've got to do your own thing. You've got to play as good as you can.

Q. Along those lines, is patience a premium on one course --

ERNIE ELS: Definitely. I think you'll see most of the scores in the 60s out on the North Course. You've got to make your score; you have one chance to shoot something really decent. You've got to hope for the best on the South. I think if you ask most of the players, they feel they have to shoot something good and decent on the North.

Q. (Inaudible.)

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, got to be happy. I shot 7-under with a couple of mistakes. Anything under 68, that's a good start, so yeah, I'm pretty pleased with it.

Q. Inaudible?

ERNIE ELS: It was weird, yeah, the driver I'm using, it's a 905 from Titleist, and they sent it to me last year in Ireland, and I actually used it in Ireland and I won with it. But it's a weird sound that the ball makes off the club face.

You know, I kept on saying to the reps, I said I need something that sounds different like the old 983 driver. And actually, that's why I used the 983 last week was for that reason because I don't like the sound of this other one.

Then we went to the test center yesterday, and I started hitting these drivers and this one that makes the weird sound was carrying by far the furthest -- it gave me the perfect spin ratio and the launch angle was perfect, too.

So, you know, I had to -- I was a little bit embarrassed, but anyway, it gave the best number, so I'm going to stick with it.

Q. Can you get used to the sound?

ERNIE ELS: I'll just put earplugs in my ears. (Laughter.)

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Let's go through your birdies.

ERNIE ELS: I birdied 11. I hit a 7-iron to about eight feet.

12, I hit a 7-iron just left of the green and I was close to the hole but I chipped it in from about 12 feet.

Then 13 was a 7-iron, again second shot to about 12 feet.

14, par 5, I hit a driver, 3-iron, just right of the green and chipped it up to about six feet.

15, I hit my drive into the right rough and I came up quite short and I made about a 60 footer there, or 50 feet there, for birdie.

17, my eighth hole, I hit a 7-iron again to about eight feet.

My ninth I bogeyed. I hit 6-iron into left of the bunker and a couple of shots from there.

2, I drove it just short left of the green and I pitched it onto about eight feet.

7 was a driver, sand iron, I would say about ten feet.

8, I pulled my driver left. Hit it on the green from there, 3-putted from about 50 feet.

Then 9, I hit a drive and a 3-wood just short of the green and pitched it up to about five feet.

Q. Did you play the South in the Pro-Am or the practice round?

ERNIE ELS: I just played probably 10, 11 holes, practice round. I played 18 holes two years ago.

Q. How many fairways did you miss today -- and could you get away with that on the South?

ERNIE ELS: I think it's a little deeper on the South, the rough. You've got to hit more fairways because it's a longer course. You're not coming in with wedges or 9-irons. You're coming in with maybe 5-irons or 6-irons out of the rough, so you have to hit it decent there.

Q. And the other tournaments you've played, maybe Dunhill, can you think of another place where going from one course to the other -- inaudible?

ERNIE ELS: I guess Disney.

Q. Is that a big difference?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I think one is a little tougher but not as much as this one. These are two totally different -- the other one is like a pitch-and-putt and then you get to the real one kind of a thing. There's quite a huge difference between these two. I don't think there's another setup like this.

Q. (Inaudible.)

ERNIE ELS: They set Carnoustie up easy -- if they set it the way they set it up like in the British Open, it's like tennis.

Q. Winning the Order of Merit last year, what was your take on Vijay getting Player of the Year, The European Tour Player of the Year?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I haven't even -- I didn't know that.

Q. You didn't know?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I didn't know that. I didn't know Vijay was a member of the European Tour. I guess he is.

I guess whatever award there was, Vijay should get it. (Laughter.) Thanks.

End of FastScripts.

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