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March 28, 2010

Ernie Els


ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I have to say I was disappointed. I don't know what it's going to be like tomorrow, who knows, but yeah, it's never a good way to go into a break -- it is what it is.

Q. At least you get to tack a step back and hit the reset button a little bit and -- coming off a double or bogey or water ball or any of that, now that's hours ago, you know what I mean?
ERNIE ELS: Actually, yeah, I'll be thinking about it all night tonight. It won't be a very peaceful night I don't think, but going to come out tomorrow and, you know, get it done somehow.

Q. What do you remember about that '92 round at the PGA with Arnold when you guys first met? Apparently he saw you there, liked you and gave you an invitation to play here, and you've been off and running ever since.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, exactly, we played together there. We hit it off quite nicely. We spoke and talked and joked. You know, he invited me to the tournament, asked if I wanted to play and I said absolutely. In '93, I missed the cut, but we played together a couple of times.

Q. You're similar in that you're fairly easygoing, lots of interests, guys' guys type of people.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, he's a good guy.

Q. Kind of a wild roller coaster on holes 9 through 13, it looked like 9, your lead shrunk to one, and then 12, five ahead, and now you're two ahead?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I mean, I tried to keep it out of the trouble, I did it most of the week but it caught me on 13. I was maybe too aggressive on my drive. I wanted to get it close to the green because I didn't want to give myself too long a shot in just because of the flag positions and then I got it in the bunker. I had a good lie but the bunkers are a little bit softer. The bunkers are a little softer than we are used to and I guess I caught a little too much sand. Obviously on 14, I just pulled a 6-iron left into that bunker. Not a very nice way to go into a bit of a break.

Q. Could have gone either way, two-shot swing the other way, you end up walking off with no blood, chip-in, you're looking at maybe bogey?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I felt pretty confident I was going to make par there, but obviously good pitching it in. Chris hit a beautiful shot in there.
You know, the golf course, I tell you, since the changes, the greens and the flag positions, there's nobody really a lot under par. It's really been difficult out there. And I had it going.
You know, there's no excuse for those bogeys or double-bogeys I made. Just came at the wrong time and now I'm in with a big battle tomorrow morning depending on conditions. I hear it could change drastically. It could be a northerly breeze blowing in the morning, really wild wind. So it could be a wild finish.

Q. Was Mother Nature's timeout there, is that a timely one for you after slipping there?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I would like to think so, yeah. But then again, you know, you want to get it done. I don't know, we'll have to wait and see. Now I'm going to go have dinner tonight, think about it, not going to be a very easy night.
Got to come out here tomorrow morning and I've got a tough tee shot on 15. A couple of difficult holes coming in.
But you know, I've got a two-shot lead. I started with a one-shot lead and I have a two-shot lead now. I'm going to play properly tomorrow morning and get it in. It's going to be difficult but that's why we do what we do I guess.
Obviously I'm not totally at ease with myself right now. I'm a little angry or disappointed or whatever you want to call it. There's still work out there to be done, and I've got to get it done. I've basically got to go out there and play hard tomorrow morning, as good as I can, basically four holes as good as I can.

Q. Is the best things for you to just get a nice meal, good night's sleep and try to forget about this whole thing for the moment? Just asking the question.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, listen, it's going to be difficult. I'm going to have a difficult evening and I'm going to keep thinking about the shots, especially the shot on 13. That's the one that I keep going back to in my mind. You know, that's not going to go away. I know myself; we are sportsmen, and when we miss up like that, we think about it.
Got to get myself ready, somehow, for the tee shot on 15. There's nothing I can do about it now.

Q. How much confidence do you draw from how well you've played lately, though, two weeks ago, and the first couple of rounds?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I'm playing good. Apparently I made a mistake. I made good putts, I made long putts, today, even, to be 1-under for the round through 14 holes. I think if you'd asked me before I started whether I would like to be 1-under through 14, I probably would have taken it.
We as sportsmen are hard on ourselves and we beat ourselves up. I'll probably be doing that to myself at the end of the day. Under par for the final round, I've got to regroup, basically, and come out firing. I've got to play four very good, solid holes. Those are four difficult holes and I've got to play them well.

Q. One of the differences between being us and being you is that you're completely dry and we're sopping wet, Ernie. Did the break come at the right time for you after what happened on 13 and 14?
ERNIE ELS: I don't know. I think so. Quite a few hours now since it happened, and I keep playing it around in my mind. Obviously I've been going so well. I was saving pars well. I was getting up-and-down.
So I was really playing a very good final round with a lot of pressure on me, and unfortunately, you know, I hit that shot out of the bunker on 13 and it cost me a double and then I hit another bad shot on 14, which cost me a bogey.
So I'm two shots ahead. But yeah, it's going to be a bit of a difficult evening for me. I think I'm going to think about those shots. I've got to come out tomorrow, I've got four holes left and I've got to play them as best I can.

Q. How much of a strength is it to the finish when you have a two-shot lead and only four holes to play?
ERNIE ELS: Well, it is what it is. I can't change it now. We are in this situation, we are going to have to see the what the conditions are like tomorrow morning. I'm sure it's going to change quite a bit when the system goes through. I think we might get a northerly breeze in the morning; who knows.
Whatever it is, I've got to play good. You know, it's going to be tough. There's going to be a lot of pressure on me. I still have got the lead. You know, so I've got to try and finish it off.

Q. So with the lead, if you were playing a regular round today and you were two shots up with 24 holes to play, would you play them differently than you will, say, Monday morning when we begin at 10:00 AM Eastern time with only four holes left then?
ERNIE ELS: Again, you know, we have got to look at conditions. I think that's going to dictate, it's a difficult tee shot as it is on 15. If you walk away with a par there, you're going to be smiling. And then you've got maybe a birdie chance at 16 and then you have 17 and 18 to look at.
You know, there's a lot of things I have to think about tonight and try and get a strategy going and then wake up and properly be prepared for those four holes.

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