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February 22, 2012

Ernie Els


Q.  I know you're going to be asked about this, but I'll be the first.  We talk about it all the time, I know you beat the No.1 seed, but it seems like anybody can beat anybody at this.  You're the obvious example of that.  Can you talk a little bit about it?
ERNIE ELS:  Well, yeah, I mean, I was trying to just take it as a first round match.  Obviously there was a bit of hype.  There's always hype when the No.1 player is playing with the No. 64 seed.  But I think Luke and I took it for what it was, you know.  And I think he didn't want to play me and I sure as hell didn't want to play him the first round.  But that's the way it worked out. But I played well.  I thought I hit the ball well and eventually made the odd putt.  Luke had a bit of an off day.  I'm obviously very pleased to go through.

Q.  We were asking in the media center before we came here, we want to know where you are, by the way.
ERNIE ELS:  Where what?

Q.  Where are you?
ERNIE ELS:  I'm staying off‑site, these people at Stone Canyon, they made me an honorary member, I've been here staying for the last five or six years.  The traffic was crazy this morning coming into the site.  So I just wanted to get out of there.  I'm almost there now.  That's about eight miles, ten miles out of the way.

Q.  The other question is, is when Luke found out he was probably playing you, we talked to him at Northern Trust.  He kind of took a step back, because obviously he didn't think he was going to be playing somebody as formidable.  At the same time you're playing the No.1 player in the world.  What did you think about coming into this match in that situation?
ERNIE ELS:  Well, I think it's Alex, is it Alex?

Q.  Yeah, it's me.
ERNIE ELS:  As I said before, I'm sure he didn't want to play me.  Obviously I can play a little bit of golf.  So I'm sure he didn't really want to face me.  And I was just glad to be in the event.  So if I was going to play Luke or Rory or Westwood, I knew I had to be on my game.  So it was a bit of a situation coming into this week.  Last week wasn't great, but Monday and Tuesday I could practice and felt comfortable.
I played the Callaway ball, the HX ball, which launches a bit higher and in this altitude I felt that an advantage on Luke, if I played him.

Q.  It's kind of interesting in a sense that throughout the course of history in this golf tournament you've been a No.1 seed or a top seed and have to make that tough ride home on a Wednesday night.  Now you're on the opposite side of it.  Could you reflect on that, some of the cruelty, disappointment you've had in this tournament and going in today as the guy that's supposedly the underdog?
ERNIE ELS:  Yeah, you're absolutely right.  It's a terrible ride home, believe me.  I feel for Luke.  He had nothing to lose, but everything to lose.  He's got a lot of pressure on him.  Yeah, I know exactly what it feels like.  You've seen me walk 18, 19, 20 holes and get blasted on this thing in the first round.  It's not a great feeling.  But it is what it is.
And, yeah, as I said to Alex, I just feel very fortunate to be in this event.  Because there is so much I have to play for.  I have to get myself in the Masters and Doral.  I need to get going, so I'm just fortunate to go through.

Q.  Just to follow up, Ernie, how much time do you spend back home with him at the Bears Club?  Do you go out and play rounds together or see each other in the lunchroom or hit balls next to him?
ERNIE ELS:  Yeah, I see Luke all the time at the Bears Club.  He's bought the piece of land there, and he practices a lot.  I see him all the time.  We're next to each other a lot of the time and I see what he does.  And there's no fluke why he's No.1 in the world.  He's done it by really working hard and got good people around him.
We haven't played too much.  But we practiced together many, many times.  We're good friends.  And someone had to win and someone had to lose, so it's a tough deal.

Q.  I don't know whether you saw some of the results today, but a lot of the younger guys did really well.  I didn't know as maybe one of the senior members out there today what you saw or what you make of the guys who are 18, 22 years old doing well out here?
ERNIE ELS:  Well, I saw Ishikawa, he won, I saw that on the boards.  I'm not sure of the other young ones.  But the young ones, they're great players.  And in this kind of format you've got to putt well and when you're young, you've got no fear with that putter.  And these guys want to prove themselves.  So they've got a lot to gain, not much to lose.  When you're in that situation, you can play aggressively.  So not a big surprise.

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