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October 2, 2004

Ernie Els


RODDY WILLIAMS: Ernie, thank you very much for joining us. Sum up your day for us.

ERNIE ELS: I've got to be happy with the score that I shot. You know, I was a little off here and there, but I got the ball up and down when I needed to. I saw the guys start off quite fast. I saw Thomas making quite a fast start and some of the other guys, saw Padraig up there.

Anyway, I just needed to concentrate on my game, which I did. I played okay. Obviously not as good as yesterday, but I played okay. I grinded out a good score, grinded out a 68 in the end and made some better shots at the end there, 17 and 18, and I can take that into tomorrow, if tomorrow happens. I think I saw a note there in the scorer's that there might be a Monday if tomorrow doesn't happen.

Anyway, I'm in good position. I'm happy with where I am. I worked hard to get to where I am, so I've got a two-shot lead and it's good to be in that position again.

Q. What would it mean, without getting ahead of yourself to win this tournament tomorrow after your disappointment with the majors?

ERNIE ELS: I think I almost answered that yesterday. I just want to get back and practice hard, play hard. There's a lot for me to play for in my career still the next five, six years. I want to give it a good go. It's not a bad start so far. You know, a lot of golf left tomorrow. In the short-term.

In the long-term, this is a good start for me. I've got good goals that I still want to achieve in my career and I want to just start working hard again.

As I said yesterday, I think what happened in August and July and June and April (laughter), it's past history now. I can't do anything about it. I was in position like I've never been before, blah, blah, blah, blah, what I said yesterday. I'm over that and I'm ready to take it on again.

Q. You mentioned twice now goals for your career and things you want to do in your career. Why was it important do you think to get back on the horse so quickly now, for the rest of this year?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I think if you take your eye off the ball too long, the competition is so fierce nowadays that you might get left behind, and I don't want to get left behind. I want to continue with climbing the hill. You know, as I said, I was a bit down there for a while, but I'm ready to start climbing again.

You don't want to be away from it too long anymore. It's not like it used to be ten years ago where you do like Bruce Lietzke, play 11 times in a year and finish in the top 30 on the Money List. It's just not that game anymore. I needed to get back quickly.

Q. What do you think about Thomas being up there, in view of what he's been through, and what do you know about him walking off the course at The K Club in July?

ERNIE ELS: We had a couple of words after that. Thomas is a good friend of mine. It's tough, you know. As he called it, the demons, we all battle them, not only me and not only Thomas. It's myself and even Vijay Singh and even Tiger. It's how you cope with it, how you come back from it. I mean, we all go through that at least once a year. Every golfer goes through it. You've got to bounce back, you've got to work hard, you've got to take stock.

He's done that, and I think the Ryder Cup has helped him a lot, to see the guys play that well and to see good golf shots. That must have helped him a lot. I'm happy for him. He must behave himself tomorrow (laughter).

Q. I just was curious how you played the first four or five. I mean, you had some decent chances. Was there any part of you that was just playing a little bit controlled?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, no, definitely. I needed to get off to a controlled start, as you call it. Yeah, I'm going to be the same tomorrow. I'm going to be a little bit nervous tomorrow. I was a little bit tight there today. As I said, I didn't want to make big mistakes. Yeah, you're right, I was a little tentative on a couple of putts, No. 1, No. 3, left it short, 4 was kind of pushy right. Yeah, I wanted to just get off to a solid -- get away solidly.

Q. When does that change to become a little more free, just seeing the numbers up there?

ERNIE ELS: That's a good question. I think tomorrow I've got to feel a bit more free. I have to play like the second day. I was bang on from the first shot. I need to do that tomorrow. I've got to be on my game and be aggressive. I play my best golf when I'm aggressive.

Q. Lastly, I saw your comment in the transcript that you did indeed watch the Ryder Cup a few weeks ago. What I didn't see in there was, A, what you thought of it, and B, how easy you guys have it next year.

ERNIE ELS: Us? The American team, they seem to play really well against us and they've got no idea against the Europeans at the moment. I think the Europeans have their number at the moment. The U.S. team had theirs in the 70s and 80s. I was surprised as you guys and probably as the players were. I really thought that both teams were very balanced, but the Europeans, they had it going their way. They had the momentum right from the first hole and never let it go.

Q. When you're watching that, is there part of you that's saying, this does not look like the guys that we play every other year?

ERNIE ELS: I can't say that. You know, we had a good time in Australia. I enjoyed that. But then they beat us bad in Virginia the next time, and then it was so close last time.

As I said before, you know, I feel the Americans are a very, very tough team. We always have a tough time to try and beat them.

Something switched, something somewhere there's this little secret that the Europeans got and they've got the number of the American team now. I might have to go sneak in there and see what they say in their team meetings, because it really is quite incredible.

End of FastScripts.

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