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October 7, 2009

Ernie Els


Q. A point was made by Ogilvy a few weeks ago, after watching these things for ten years, that is after the first morning, Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, you can almost tell who is going to win on the first morning.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I haven't really looked at it that way. I've only really had two decent Cups. I know the one I didn't play, they were pretty close. I'm not sure what happened that first day. I think Chris DiMarco made the winning putt in 2005.
I'm not sure what the stats say, but you need a good first day. If you're down by half a point, that's not much, but you can't have a disastrous start like we have had in the past. I know South Africa there was quite a few turning points there. The one day they beat us --

Q. Two shutouts, or close to it.
ERNIE ELS: So that was a little strange, too. But yeah, the first day is very important, especially in the foursomes format. Everybody plays, and I think there's six matches tomorrow. If we can get out tied tomorrow, I think we've had a great day.

Q. Are you relishing this role of being written off, underdogs, that whole bit?
ERNIE ELS: I think so in a little way. In the past we have had really a strong team on paper, World Ranking-wise. This year I've fallen back quite a bit, Retief has fallen back a little bit, and Vijay I think is the only Top-10 guy we have, and Geoff. In the past we used to have three, four guys in the Top-10. Now we barely have guys in the Top-30. So it's changed a little bit.
But the players are good, have got pretty good reputations. I feel a lot better about my own game coming into this Cup than I have in probably the last three, really. I haven't felt really comfortable with my swing the last couple, and now I feel like I'm playing quite comfortable with my swing and my game. Hopefully we will play a little bit better.

Q. Did you want Scotty as a partner?
ERNIE ELS: It seems like, yeah, I think Scotty wanted to play with me. I really enjoy Scotty. I think he's one of the great talents of the game. He's had a very tough year. So mentally, I want to help him, and you know, if he can get over the little stumbling block that he's had it will be great for his career.

Q. Did the travel from Scotland cause any issues?
ERNIE ELS: Yesterday I was fine. Today I feel a little bit -- I only played 14 holes. We played alternate-shot, so it wasn't too much work for me today. I feel a bit down today, a little tired.

Q. Did you leave right after on Monday? When would you have gotten here?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I got here early in the morning, yesterday morning. But I slept a lot. I mean, it was about 12 and a half hours flight. Slept most of the way.

Q. Where did you refuel?
ERNIE ELS: It was down the road. Actually I went through Florida first.

Q. Did you have anything to do with playing with Adam Scott in the opening match?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I think I feel comfortable with Scotty. I know back in South Africa we had a very good Cup together there and we won quite a few points. Obviously he's had a tough year. But I feel that he feels comfortable playing with me and I feel comfortable playing with him.
We need to get going and what's been has been. We have to look forward now. And I think he's driving the ball unbelievably. I think he just needs a little bit of confidence boost. So hopefully we can give each other a little bit of a go tomorrow.

Q. Is this the kind of event that you would get your confidence and your game back?
ERNIE ELS: Well, it could go either way, can't it. With the alternate-shot format, you know, if you get your partner in trouble, you know he's going to get you out of trouble and you can feel the pressure a bit. We feel very comfortable with each other and play very similar games.

Q. Seems like your swing is back in shape and you're starting to make some putts again, too.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, that's the one positive about weeks like these. You have 12 guys really rooting for each other, and when you see something like a swing or his technique, you can give him a bit of a helping hand. Greg Norman was regarded as one of the best putters of his time, he gave me a nice tip yesterday, stopping at the hitting area, kind of flipping with my right hand. And we played a lot of golf together in our lifetime and I was pulling through with my left hand and he felt I needed to do that a bit more. I've been doing that the last two days and I'm starting to roll it quite nicely. He might be my next coach, who knows, but he's a bit expensive.
When you get a bit too careful, you start accelerating. So that was nice. And he knows me very well.

Q. You've been on a lot of these. What's your analysis of why it seems to be that the Internationals just don't do well?
ERNIE ELS: I saw a stat in the paper this morning. You were right. The foursomes, they have won 41 and a half points to 29 and a half for us. So that's a big difference. That's three quarters more than what we have made. So we have got to identify that.
I think what you said earlier, also. It's kind of difficult sometimes to bring a team from around the world together and then blend in quickly as a team, within a couple of days. We get here on Monday and by Thursday we tee off, so you need to get a lot of characters comfortable with each other. And as I said, our team changed quite a bit more than maybe the American Team. So we always have to kind of gel special characters with one another, and it's proven difficult in the past I guess.

Q. In terms of the U.S. playing every year, and you every two years, do you think that makes a difference?
ERNIE ELS: I think so. I said earlier the Americans used to be in some of the same situations as us. The Europeans always used to beat them and they used to try to come back in the singles.
We came back in the singles in the last one in Canada. I think we beat them in the singles. So that means our team is strong on an individual basis. But we need to find the pairings to gel to give us a little bit of leeway to go into the final day.
So Frank Nobilo said a very good thing last night. He said, if we can just stay in there, whether we are half a point each day, that's all we need. We just need to be ahead by half a point each day to win the Cup. You don't have to have a big margin. You just need to keep it tight. So we would like to do that this year.

Q. And it seems to be more difficult to chase a lead than it is to protect a lead in this team competition.
ERNIE ELS: Seems that way. If it's very tight like it was in South Africa, you know, it can go either way. But it's very difficult to call it on the last day when it's very narrow, very close. So we would like to just at least have a chance this time. Because I mean, if we get a tie tomorrow, it would be a big boost for our team and we can flow into the rest of the week.

Q. The one time that you got off to a good start was Melbourne on the first day, and you ended up obviously --
ERNIE ELS: It's so long ago, I can't even remember.

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