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THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP


July 19, 2012


Ernie Els


LYTHAM ST. ANNES, ENGLAND

ERNIE ELS:  Obviously try and get it in the right numbers and did that, and obviously a nice way to finish with a birdie.  I felt really good.  I think the U.S. Open was a good little test for me.  That final round I felt good.  And it's all about confidence.  And it's starting to grow a little bit in me.
So today was a big day, as I say.  You don't want to play yourself out of it.  You can't win it today, but you can get yourself too far behind, so I'm pleased with the round.

Q.  How was the course playing today?
ERNIE ELS:¬† Well, as I spoke to one of you guys earlier in the week, I had that question, and I said if it doesn't blow, it's going to be‑‑ you can get at it, you know. ¬†But if it blows you're in the other spectrum because the rough is so thick.¬† You start missing shots, you can't score from there.
But benign conditions like this, you get it in play, you can get at the golf course, and that's what the guys are doing.

Q.  What are you expecting to change tomorrow?
ERNIE ELS:  Well, it all depends on what the weather does.  I'm sure it's going to start blowing soon.  And then you have to go accordingly.  I thought flags were gettable today.  A couple of flags weren't too tucked.  So if you played decent golf today, under par.  But it will get a little bit tougher as the week goes on.  You've got to keep going.

Q.  What other course is similar to this in terms of the bunkers?
ERNIE ELS:  I think Hoylake.  I think Hoylake is very similar.  And some of the holes at Birkdale.  And they're all on the coastlines.  Might have been the same designer, I don't know.  It's not overly long, but as I say, if the wind comes, it gets very tricky.  You have to really decide on what club you play off the tees here.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS:  Yeah, that was a bonus.  I hit a good tee shot, but it just went in the rough and the flag was front.  I mean, obviously the professional shot would have been 30 feet past.  But I came up short and I chipped it in; somehow it went in.

Q.  What did you hit?
ERNIE ELS:¬† You know, it was a 52‑degree sand wedge.¬† Just like you.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS:¬† I'm not sure.¬† In '96 I ran very close and I bogeyed 16 and 18 to finish two behind Tom.¬† In '01 I was just back in the pack.¬† I finished third, but there was a lot of us.¬† And it was a lot firmer and faster.¬† So I don't know, I just got a nice feel.¬† You can go at it or you can play safe.¬† And I like that‑‑ you know, I like those options you have, basically.¬† You can play safe or you can go at it.

Q.  Are you starting to see things in your game that you haven't seen before or for a while at least?
ERNIE ELS:¬† Yeah, yeah, it starts with the putter.¬† It's feeling a lot better.¬† On the back nine I felt I missed quite a few.¬† But I'm getting it to the hole.¬† I'm not so anxious over the putts anymore.¬† And that's a good sign.¬† I worked with Claude Harmon and Ricci on my ball‑striking and made a couple of little changes, and it's coming out beautiful, touch wood.¬† I'm hitting it really nice.¬† I've got a nice feel.¬† And obviously with a little bit of confidence, who knows?

Q.  Are you feeling that you are in contention this week in terms of confidence?
ERNIE ELS:  You've got to be a crazy man not to.  My odds must have been really great, you know?  I wish I could have put some money on myself.  But I don't think it's allowed.  I think I was like 100 to 1 or something?

Q.  (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS:  I guess I was 100 to 1 a couple of months ago.

Q.  A tough day for Darren, the former champion.  He's disgusted with himself.  Do you have a feeling of what he's going through?
ERNIE ELS:  Absolutely.  I've been there.  I was there, you know, he's hitting the ball beautifully.  It's just a confidence thing.  Your confidence is low, you get the wrong bounces.  I mean, he had quite a few unlucky bounces today.  It's just a part of the game.  It's very difficult, you know.  I've been there for over a year.  It's difficult to get yourself up from there.  But he's playing beautifully.  And I think his attitude is great.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS:¬† Well, it's on today.¬† I mean I just thought‑‑ I said to Ricci, I might not have the chance again.¬† You never know how the weather is going to be.¬† I wish I did that back in '96, it would have been different.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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