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March 31, 2010

Ernie Els


ERNIE ELS: No, obviously pleased the way things have gone for me. It's a new week here. I really enjoyed it last year when I played here. I thought the course was in unbelievable shape. So that's the reasoning behind coming back, you know, my experiences here from last year.
I was up in Augusta I guess today, and I'm really anxious of playing. Need to work on a couple things that I haven't been doing very good, but I can't really complain a lot. Just pleased to be here.

Q. What could you possibly not be doing right?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I missed a couple of iron shots to the left. I spoke to Butch Harmon about my alignment because it's out of whack again, and that's the first sign of a left shot. I've been working on that a little bit the last couple days and just like to have it under pressure, you know, because obviously next week you got to do everything right under, you know, biggest pressure you're ever going to find. Just like to have my game peaking. I'm pretty close.

Q. Ernie, what changed for you to get that victory? You've been working on a mental approach?
ERNIE ELS: I think the whole package. I've had to go back to the drawing board a little bit. Last year I was hitting the ball well, but I wasn't putting everything together so with Callaway, we've got a softer golf ball, and that's really brought my short game back.
My short game has been a lot sharper than it has been the last couple of years. That came back. My driving is not too bad. That's one thing I want to improve.
But I think the biggest problem was my mental approach towards myself and the game itself. So that's been a little better.

Q. Ernie, normally I think people would call you the hottest golfer in the world because you won two in a row. Couples comes in winning three in a row. What do you think about you and him coming here on such streaks like this?
ERNIE ELS: I think it's great. Freddie is a big favorite and obviously got big connections with the Houston area. I think he's won it a couple of times, too. He's hitting the ball miles, and, you know, his putter has been a little cold last couple years. That's why he hasn't won out here. It's obviously come alive now.

Q. The oddity of two guys coming here on streaks like that yourself as well.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah. I think it's good for the game. Golf needs it now, you know, needs a couple story lines. I think Freddie is definitely one, and I've become one now of late, winning in the last couple of weeks.
Yeah, I think it's good for the whole game, you know, and a lot of other great players you have this week. I think we can be in for a really good, interesting week.

Q. Why do you play so well on this course?
ERNIE ELS: It's a week before Augusta. You want to get your game in great shape. You know, it's a big golf course. You can't just fluke your way around this golf course. It's a big course. You got to hit good shots, drive it well, hit your irons well. It's a championship golf course. Guys that hit the ball well will probably be worthy this week.

Q. Your thoughts on Couples and Norman being named President Cup captains again.
ERNIE ELS: That's great. I think it's wonderful. Last time we went to Australia, we had a great time against the American team, and, you know, Greg's a legend, The Presidents Cup's legend. Great playing with him again.
He did a great job last time. His team really gave it to us last year, Freddie's. I think it's going to be great. They're two very popular players and really great captains.

Q. Ernie, we don't get to see you very often. Your thoughts about the anticipation of Tiger returning next week at the Masters?
ERNIE ELS: It's great. I saw Tiger out there. He was practicing a lot. Looks like he's getting obviously in shape. I think it's great. You know, obviously, he's looking forward to it, I know that. He's got a great record there. I think it's going to be a good factor.

Q. Did y'all have a chance to chat at all?
ERNIE ELS: I said hello to him. I haven't seen him for awhile. So it was nice catching up with him, and he looked in good spirits.

Q. Phil said awhile ago he -- he hasn't played in a long time. How do you go and play at Augusta when you haven't played in a long time, while Tiger is the kind guy that can do remarkable things like that?
ERNIE ELS: I think it's absolutely correct. Tiger is just a different player. He's different than most players. He's the one guy that probably could make a success. It's tough.

Q. Do you guys worry about everything that's going to spin around Tiger's appearance?
ERNIE ELS: No. I think it's going to be fine. I think most of the serious golf journalists will be there. Obviously, there will be some other journalists there from the underworld. I don't think so at all. I think it's going to be -- it will be controlled pretty well, and whatever questions comes his way, you're free to ask.
It will be an interesting day. I'm sure he wants it over and done with. And from our perspective, I don't think it's going to influence the tournament at all, you know, not in a negative way. I think it's going to be fine.

Q. What do you think of the field here for this tournament?
ERNIE ELS: It's great. This is always a good week to come to, and I think the golf course -- that's why the field is so good. This golf course is really a good course, and I think they get it in such great shape that it's really a benefit to play before the Majors, first Majors.

Q. Shell Houston Open, that about right?
ERNIE ELS: That's exactly right. I went up to Augusta Monday, but obviously we couldn't -- we're not able to play. We're ready for the Pro-Am here.

Q. You've been playing so well. Is it more just working on something or trying to maintain?
ERNIE ELS: I'm working on a couple of things. My weakness came out a little bit last week. Obviously, the second shot at 13 really changed the complexity of the tournament. Then I had to kind hang on, and I didn't like the way I had to hang on. I like to play a bit more aggressive than that. Couple of things I got to work on.

Q. You've been in contention so much, is it mentally fatiguing, or can you maintain mental sharpness through the next couple weeks?
ERNIE ELS: I think I'm going to be fine. Just the fact that I'm here to take this week. I played here last year. I thought about taking the week off actually before I came here, but just felt that, you know, I'm going to be at home and thinking about so many things and be practicing and maybe overpracticing. Where I can play the golf here, go home, put my feet up, and just keep holding on. I think it's probably a better idea to play golf this week.

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