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July 13, 2008

Ernie Els


Q. Thoughts on the week?
ERNIE ELS: I think I could have done a lot better over the weekend. I thought my last nine yesterday I played really well and played really well all day today from tee-to-green, but the putts dried up. I missed a lot of putts over the weekend, but I feel that it's been okay. I had three weeks off before this week started, so I guess, you know, got all the rust off the swing and off the game for next week.

Q. Do you feel rusty when you've taken three weeks off?
ERNIE ELS: Yes, I think anybody would at my age. (Laughter).

Q. As someone whose won here and an Open Championship, very different golf courses, what adjustments do you have to make to your game?
ERNIE ELS: Well, that's a good question. The discussion is always, Loch Lomond is a very soft golf course and then you go to a links course which normally plays firm and you see the ball bouncing, so it's two totally different scenarios. But I was at Birkdale, like I said, last week, and it's quite soft. Not as soft as Loch Lomond but a little softer than normal links conditions.
You're going to have to adapt. It's slightly different. The weather conditions will be different and the golf course, the ball still runs. Here, it was very target golf and over there it's going to be a bit more on the ground.

Q. Do you feel as though the three weeks of inactivity has been beneficial?
ERNIE ELS: I think mentally yes. It's been a pretty awkward year to say the least, and I'm trying to get positive stuff going. After my first round, I wasn't in a great shape of mind but I think I'm a little bit better now.
I think if I play that way, the way I did on the first day, I don't think I would have been here for the weekend, so I think freshness of mind kept me here and kept me grinding away.

Q. Who helps you with your putting? Does Butch help you with your putting or anybody else you turn to?
ERNIE ELS: No. The stroke is not all that bad. Just the speed every now and again, and the read every now and again. I'm not hitting bad putts. If I make a couple, the confidence could change.

Q. Phil was saying that he reckoned Birkdale would separate the good players and the best players would rise to the top of the leaderboard.
ERNIE ELS: I think majors normally do that. I think major conditions are different than other normal events. You know, this course here this week is beautiful, almost parkland conditions, and fairways are quite wide and soft.
You know, if you look at the stats, guys are hitting a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and you can still maybe miss a shot and hit a few. You're not going to do that at a major. You've got to be more spot-on and play a bit of different golf. So yeah, it always does that, and I think Birkdale is no different. The rough is thicker than it was last year at Carnoustie, and you're going to have to watch out.

Q. What do you think of Birkdale as an Open venue compared to the others?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I think it's a wonderful venue. I think it's right in the hard of where all your great golf courses are, and it's just down the road from Hoylake, Lytham, so many great courses in the area. It's going to be a week that you'll see a lot of people, so that's great. I think the layout is wonderful. I think they have lengthened some of the holes. The last time we were there was ten years ago, so technology has moved on from then and they have adapted and put more bunkers in and length, so I think it's a great venue.

Q. Phil implied he might not use a driver much.
ERNIE ELS: Well, he kind of normally does that in majors now, doesn't he. Well, he's a very long hitter of the ball, so you really want to put the ball in play at Birkdale. You don't need to be very long. You just need to be in play. So that's why I'm saying, also, that you're going to see a lot of guys in contention come down the weekend.

Q. Have you heard that the course has firmed up at all since you played it last?
ERNIE ELS: Who did I speak to? I spoke to somebody who was there, I spoke to Phil. He was there on Monday. He says it's still quite soft. It's been raining until Saturday I guess, so --

Q. And it's going to rain next week, as well, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
ERNIE ELS: Come on, really? (Laughter).

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