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May 24, 2003

Ernie Els


GORDON SIMPSON: Ernie, just three back going into the last round, and in your own words, you were sleepwalking in the middle of the rounds but other than that, some great stuff at the front and the back.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I played good. I had the start that I wanted to get to a low round today, and you know, 4-under through the first four holes and playing pretty solid. Then I missed my second shot on the seventh hole short right in the bunker. That was a silly mistake, mental error. I got it out and then I missed the putt from about eight feet.

The next hole, I had another 9-iron to the green. I had 155 to the hole and I think the wind switched on us there, because Trevor came up short and I hit a 9-iron there and that also came up short and I hit a very poor pitch shot and made bogey there.

Then on 9, I had a very good drive in the first cut of rough and I think I had 160 to the hole into the breeze and hit another 9-iron. This time it flew. I thought I made a good swing over there and it flew straight over the green.

That was very hard to take at that stage, to make three bogeys like that after the start I had. I played very well after that to get to where I am. I'm 11-under. If it wasn't for those three mistakes, I could be in the lead now.

You know, Trevor played great. He never made a mistake -- just a mistake on 15. Basically, handed it to him today.

GORDON SIMPSON: We know your thoughts about Casey and Rose, but people forget about Trevor Immelman coming through.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, obviously, I know Trevor as well as maybe anybody. He grew up right in front of me. I've known him since he was about seven years old. He's always had dedication and the desire to win. He's definitely showing it now. He played great in America; just couldn't quite finish it off here and there. But, you know, I've always said, you know, he's going to be our next star and he's going to show it.

If I want to win tomorrow, I've probably got to go through him.

Q. Would you say "our next", in South Africa or the world?

ERNIE ELS: I think the way he's going he could be a world star. Coming from a small nation like us, I think he's definitely our next superstar in South Africa.

Q. When you arrived today and saw the scoring that was going on, did you think it's going to really need a good one today?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I could see that. I could see the wind wasn't up at all. Any time you get the west course without any breeze, especially the way the greens are running, you're going to see some really low scoring. I guess the average score up there is probably a 69, 68 today. The course is in great condition and in perfect conditions like this, you're going to shoot low. I knew that, and I had the perfect start, as I say. I kind of squandered maybe a 64, 65 today, but got away with a 67 playing solidly. I feel I'm playing solidly. So try to keep it up.

Q. You said that Trevor has got a lot of desire, and I know you've said that this is one that you really want.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I always wanted to win here, the PGA. If you look at my record, I think I've got a lot of Top-10s, top 5s. The last bit, I just haven't had. At times I've played I thought good enough and then I remember one year Monty beating me, making the last putt on 18. And there are times I've made mistakes like I did today. You've just got to keep your mistakes and go as low as you can.

Q. What will the strategy be tomorrow; do you plan to go out with all guns blazing?

ERNIE ELS: I think you need a good start. It's tough to just get it going like I did today, the first three holes. If you make pars the first three holes, you'll be very satisfied with that. From there, you can start making your move depending on the weather tomorrow; that's another factor. Just play it the way it is. If it's tough, it's going to be tough to make pars. You've just got to try. We know what we have to do. I have to shoot something in the mid-60s to have a chance tomorrow. That's what I've got to try and do.

Q. The putt at 15, was that a mistake?

ERNIE ELS: I hit it too hard. I haven't quite been on my putting this week. That one from previous experience; it really breaks far from the right. I was going to make sure I hit it hard enough. I hit it too hard through the break; I thought I read it right but didn't hit a good putt.

Q. When you have had a break like you've had, three rounds into it, what is the last part of your game to come back?

ERNIE ELS: It's probably the short game, I would say. It depends. Sometimes it's the long but most of the time it's the short game. I said to Ricci today, we are going to Colombus next week and I've got the week off after that. The only thing I want to be working on is my short game, to really get that sharp and get that ready for the U.S. Open.

GORDON SIMPSON: Well played again today. Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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