June 12, 2003
OLYMPIA FIELDS, ILLINOIS
ERNIE ELS: It was. It was nice and quiet. There was not a lot of breeze out there this morning. They're reasonably soft, but you have a USGA setup, and even in benign conditions it's still a tough golf course. You've got to keep it in play most of the time. As I said even before the week started, the greens are really difficult to putt. If you get past the hole it's pretty difficult, but I'm happy with the way I played this morning. Anything under 7 you've got to take it.
Q. Do you feel like you were playing a little better than you were scoring?
ERNIE ELS: That's the way it's been going, hasn't it? I've been playing like this more a while now. At least a made a couple more putts today, especially on the front nine. It seemed like the back nine I had quite a few chances and didn't quite take advantage of that. Still, you know, you can't get carried away. You have to keep your patience.
Q. What's the crowd like compared with last year's Open?
ERNIE ELS: They were great this morning. We had a lot of support through the group. Obviously playing with Tiger there's a lot of support for him but it seemed like they supported all three of us and they were pretty quiet. I think they'll get a little bit more rowdy this afternoon after a couple of beers, I can assure you that.
Q. You said this morning was benign. Do you feel like there's a 65, 66 out there for somebody?
ERNIE ELS: Sure there is if you start making some putts. I've played this tournament so many times. When you start pushing and try to make something happen, the golf course seems to beat you. I was just trying to stay patient, although I was hitting it pretty solid. As I said, I didn't get much out of it, but as I say, anything under 70 is good for the first round.
Q. Considering this course is probably as easy as you're going to stay this week was it difficult to stay patient and not be aggressive?
ERNIE ELS: Of course. It's as calm and quiet and pretty soft as you're going to see it, but they've got some really tough pin positions out there. If you get it anywhere past the hole, as I said before, you've really got to be kind of defensive on your putting. We found out in our group today, I think all three of us played pretty well from tee to green, but you just cannot start pushing.
ERNIE ELS: You can play yourself out of it. You just kind of hang, hang for three rounds and see what happens on Sunday.
Q. Did it seem like difficult rough?
ERNIE ELS: Well, there was a bit of moisture on the ground and it seems like the ball was sitting up kind of. We missed quite a few fairways the first couple of holes but it seemed like we could get it to the green every time. This afternoon the ball will probably go down. I see there's a bit of breeze picking up. Afternoon conditions are always a little bit tougher.
Q. How far did you hit the drive there on your last?
ERNIE ELS: 343.
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