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April 11, 2004

Ernie Els


BILLY MORRIS: Ladies and gentlemen, we have Ernie Els, who had a very fine 67 today and who is runner up in the 2004 Masters Tournament. Ernie, just a few general comments and then we'll have a few questions.

ERNIE ELS: I'd rather take a question. How's that?

Q. Can you play much better than that on the back?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I did what I had to do. I put the ball in play and gave myself opportunities. I would have loved to have made some more putts, you know. I keep on saying that, but that's how it goes. That's how it was this week.

You know, as I said to you last night, you know, I was going to keep the faith, you know, and keep going. You know, it just didn't work out for me.

Q. Your short game, you went eagle, great save at 8 and 9, eagle, great save, and you had some other great saves. It looked like it was on all cylinders there?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I played well. That putt on 10, I thought that was in, you know, and it just skimmed past the left edge. I thought I made that.

I made a good up and down on 11 for par.

Hit another good putt on 12 from about, I don't know what it was, 10, 11, eight, nine feet, whatever it was, and that went just past the edge.

Then I made eagle on 13, then hit that poor drive on 14. I hit it to the right and I made a great save there; you're right.

I hit a good chip shot on 15 from the back of the green to make a birdie.

I made a good save again on 16. I just over clubbed over that edge there, over that mound.

I just couldn't make those last couple.

Yeah, the front nine was kind of up and down again. I bogeyed 3. I hit it in the greenside bunker. That was quite a surprise. But I made 5 from there.

Made 5 on 5 for another bogey. And from there, I played as good as I've played around here.

Q. Is it kind of a helpless feeling? You do all you can do, you're over there eating an apple, then walk on to the putting green. What's going through your mind and the emotions at that point?

ERNIE ELS: You know, it's a lot to explain. You've done what you've done. I played as good as I could. What more can you do, you know? I guess Phil deserved this one. He played great down the stretch. He made birdie on 16. I heard that roar. And then obviously, I could hear from the crowd's reaction, he hit it pretty close on 18 and then he made a great putt there.

You know, you just, you're there in another guy's hands. There's nothing you can do.

Q. How long were your putts on 17 and 18?

ERNIE ELS: I'm not sure. What was it, 17 feet on 17, and I don't know what it was on 18, 14 feet.

Q. Phil's talent has always been enormous. Can you imagine what it would be like to play as many years as he did without having a major?

ERNIE ELS: No. (Laughter.)

Q. Is there a sense of sympathy or anything like that?

ERNIE ELS: Well, he's won one now, hasn't he? What do you want from me? He played well. (Laughter.)

Q. Was there any part on the back nine where you and your caddie said that's the number we probably need to win?

ERNIE ELS: No. You know, I was trying to push. I was just trying to keep going. When I felt the momentum going my way after my second shot on 8, I hit it to about five feet behind the hole. I made that putt.

Then as Jeff said, I made a good par save on 9. I just wanted to keep going. I was hitting the ball very solid, I was feeling so good out there, I felt I could have birdied every hole the way I was playing. I was really pumped up. I felt good.

Q. It's always tough after something like that happens, but is there any pride or accomplishment in the fact that you did what you wanted to do today?

ERNIE ELS: You know, it's disappointing. I don't know. I've got to take stock after this. It's very tough for me to explain exactly what I feel right now.

You guys won't know what I feel. It's hard for me to explain. That's that.

Q. Were you battling yourself a little bit yesterday? Did you feel like you were not quite clicking the way you were clicking today, yesterday?

ERNIE ELS: I think the whole week was like that. I was kind of starting and stopping, starting and stopping, you know, and my front nine, when I started the first five holes was exactly the same again. I just couldn't quite break loose and play my game. I think the golf course forces you into certain ways out there. I was definitely forced by the golf course, playing a little defensive, yet you don't want to shoot yourself out of it. Because I knew I'm always going to have a chance on Sunday, even if I'm a little behind.

So I was not quite, you know, playing on all cylinders. And then I felt like that again today, a little bit, but then it started coming around after my putt on 7 and my beautiful approach on 8.

I mean, yesterday, I had a good start on the front nine, and then obviously, I didn't play too good on the back nine. But, you know, I gave myself a chance. I didn't play myself out of it.

Q. Could you address the noise from your perspective? There was a period it was fast and furious, aces, eagles?

ERNIE ELS: It was unbelievable. That's probably the loudest I've ever heard it. Maybe in '98 when I played with Jack, that was quite loud, especially on that front nine when he made quite a few birdies.

That was exciting. I mean, if you are a fan watching on television, or you guys, it must have been it was good golf.

The one Kirk made in front of us on 16, I never saw that shot, but I just heard that roar, and then K.J. on 11, that ball never left the flag. It was great stuff. It was great golf.

Q. Can you take us through the two eagles, the clubs, the distance?

ERNIE ELS: On 8, I hit a driver and a 5 iron, hooked it around the trees. I was on the left side of the fairway. I got it around there to five feet.

13, I hit a 3 wood off the tee and I really got it around a corner. I hit a 6 iron in there and made about, I don't know, a 10 footer down there.

Q. Second shot distances?

ERNIE ELS: I had 208 to the front on 8. The flag was only 4 on or something I think.

On 13, I was trying it was 185 to the front edge of the green. The flag must have been 20 on, 205.

Q. Talk about the curse on 13. 13, what were you thinking on that tee, given where you were, and when you came off it with eagle, did you get a sense of this could be it?

ERNIE ELS: I always had a sense that this was my year, you know. I just felt it from Thursday.

As I said, I just didn't quite get my game going the first couple of days. Yeah, 13, you want to forget about that stuff. You guys will remind us for as long as I live, I know that. (Laughter.) I was just not thinking about that. As I said, I was swinging well and I felt good. I wanted to just keep going, keep making birdies.

Q. You had some great victories in majors. Can you sort of put this effort and this experience in perspective for us?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I gave it my best shot. I just said to Jos and my wife today, and my dad, I gave it my absolute best, especially today. I'm very disappointed now, but I'll get over this, no problem. I feel like I'll win a major this year. I would have loved to have won this one. I'm chasing that little Grand Slam a little bit in my career. But I'll have another shot, I'm sure of that, if I keep practicing, keep healthy, keep at it, I'll have another shot. So as I said, you know, I think Phil deserved this one. He won this one. He didn't lose it like some of his other ones. He won this one, and full credit to him.

Q. Can you remember a time where you felt this good about nine or 12 holes that you've played?

ERNIE ELS: Well, you know, always when you win, you feel like you did what you had to do. You know, I just yeah, I gave myself a chance almost every hole.

My putting didn't want to work, and that's that.

I played well. I'm going to look myself in the mirror tonight and say, "well done." It's one of those things. That is golf. I've had some good wins and I've had some tough losses, and this is one of the tough losses. You win some, you lose some.

Q. How did you putt the first three days, the tournament as a whole as a putting tournament?

ERNIE ELS: My stats looked okay, but I missed quite a few greens, just by a couple of inches. So if you look on the stat sheet, I was under 30 putts almost every day. But when you just miss it by an inch or two and you're about 12, 15 feet from the hole, it feels like a birdie putt.

I would say it was mediocre, and I didn't miss any real short ones, but I never made big ones.

BILLY MORRIS: Ernie, you said it yourself, it was great golf out there, and you helped make it so, for The Masters and all the world. We thank you so much for all you've done here and we wish you the best the rest of the year, and we look forward to seeing you next year. Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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