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October 17, 2003

Ernie Els


SCOTT CROCKETT: We were expecting to wish you happy birthday about an hour and a half ago, but tell us about the last hole and a half.

ERNIE ELS: You have to take your hat off to Tim Clark. He showed so much character coming down the stretch today. I had him 5-down. I don't think I missed a shot until I hit that lovely tee shot on 13 into the bush. Before that, I felt totally in control, very comfortable and I gave him a little bit of breathing room and he totally responded. He should feel proud of himself.

And I'm glad to get through. I played well myself. 13 and 15 were shocking. Actually, I made good bogeys on those holes. Tim made two pars. He hit a beautiful shot on 14 to make birdie and then two beautiful shots on 16 and made the putt to win four in a row there.

It wasn't looking pretty. 17, I played it as good as I could. Again, I thought I had it won, when you lay it up into the rough, and then he responded with an unbelievable shot out of the rough to six feet. I got up-and-down for birdie because I know he's going to make his. I make mine and the rest is history.

It was a hell of a match, and it's maybe something I needed going into the weekend.

Q. What do you mean by that?

ERNIE ELS: Well, you know, really nice to walk off 13 and 14. You know, that rush, that adrenaline rush that I had just the last hour or so, I never had it in this tournament so far this year. I've kind of had everything pretty easy until Tim made that beautiful comeback.

So under the gun, I had to hit shots all of a sudden, especially 16, 17, 18. I felt I responded well in a positive way, and as I say, you know, it's not going to get any easier coming into the weekend. I hope it does, but I don't think it will.

Q. Did you have palpitations?

ERNIE ELS: Not quite. But it's up there.

Q. Was the first putt on the 18th a misread?

ERNIE ELS: You know, I had exactly the same putt this morning and I left it the same distance short. So I've got a little bit of a mystery going on there. I kind of hit it a little bit too firm past the hole.

He had 20 feet, but still, you want to leave it very close. I hit a really good putt.

Q. Tim the sort of guy you would want to play with in the Presidents Cup?

ERNIE ELS: I've love to play with him now. I mean, I knew before today, I said to Ricci, I was to have a very tough match. Stephen Leaney would have been tough, but I knew Tim. I've played a lot of practice rounds with Tim in tournaments in America and I see his game every week. He's going to do very good things. He's got a very good future.

Q. Will you suggest to Gary you play with him?

ERNIE ELS: I don't think I'll go that far, Bernie.

Q. How do you look at playing Vijay tomorrow?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I said to -- I played Vijay once and I lost. I've played Vijay so many times. I think we've played four or five times in this event. So it seems like every year, we play each other.

It really makes no difference now who you play. You've got to play very well to win. Everybody's quality.

Q. And Shaun?

ERNIE ELS: Again, same answer.

Q. Inaudible?

ERNIE ELS: Well, you've got to play as good as you can to win. You know, I think he's a very straight hitter off the ball. He's very solid tee-to-green and he putts well. I mean, those type of players like him, you are going to have a tough time beating.

Q. Any birthday surprises this morning?

ERNIE ELS: The family, I was surprised, because I got up so early this morning. You don't get much when you turn 34. You don't get too many toys. I'll see what's back there now. I think it's a bit of a surprise. (Laughs).

Q. Are you disappointed?

ERNIE ELS: Not at all. (Laughter.)

Q. Any plans for tonight?

ERNIE ELS: I'm going to get absolutely pissed tonight -- I'm married and 34. (Laughter.)

SCOTT CROCKETT: Well, go out and get started. Thanks, Ernie.

End of FastScripts.

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