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June 19, 1994

Ernie Els


LES UNGER: Ernie, did you feel that the shot from the divot was affected significantly?

ERNIE ELS: Yes, definitely. I couldn't believe my luck there. I could not have got a worse break on the 18th hole. It was unbelievable. I went into the divot; tried to hit it like a bunker shot but it wouldn't come out. I guess I was fortunate to make 5.

LES UNGER: Questions.

Q. As far as the two rulings you received, did you feel you got lucky especially on that first one?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I got a nice break on the first hole. My ball was lying deep left. I got a nice drop into the hot pin stuff where the spectators were walking, so I was pretty fortunate there and 17 again, that is why I went with the driver. I wasn't going to hit it right. I was always going to hit it left, but I got a good break there again into the drop shot which was about ten yards close to the hole and it was open for me, so I got two pretty good breaks. I was waiting for one on the 18th but I was about two club woods away from that.

Q. How much thought if any, with you rather erratic driving, did you give to hitting an iron off the 18th tee?

ERNIE ELS: I was trying to hit the ball down as far as I could. I never looked on to the scoreboard on the 18th tee. I never saw Loren drop a shot at 18, so if I knew that I could have -- I think I would have gone with the 2-iron or 3-wood down 18. I thought I had to make birdie and tried to get it down there as far as I could and that is just the way it turned out.

Q. You couldn't see one or you never saw --

ERNIE ELS: I never looked at the scoreboard.

Q. With the last two drives, 17 and 18, both went way left. How much of that was the pressure of Sunday afternoon at the Open?

ERNIE ELS: I think it has got something to do with it. I mean, the first 3 rounds I hit the drives pretty nice down there, so I try to hit the same shot and I just hit it too hard tried to get it all the way down and kind of came over the shot.

Q. Was there even a glimmer of hope on the second shot of getting it to the green on 18?

ERNIE ELS: I think I was riding my luck pretty good all day. I was thinking about it -- hit it through the tree, though, but I thought I chipped it out and as it turned out it was still dead. Went into the damn divot then.

Q. Given the excitement of the stage of 18, what could that have caused you to do to miss the two shot; were you had hurrying it?

ERNIE ELS: As I said, I just thought I smashed the living stuffings out of it and I tried to get it all the way down and basically I was too quick. Hit it way left.

Q. Ernie, do you have a preference; would you rather be out playing now deciding this or do you have prefer 18 tomorrow and why?

ERNIE ELS: No, I prefer 18. I think it is fair for everybody. You know, 18 holes tomorrow at least the best man of the day will win the championship where in sudden death, you know, guy gets a lucky break or hits a good shot hit, a good putt, and you don't get the U.S. Open. I think it is better to have an 18 hole playoff and at least you get a better chance; you get 18 holes to win the U.S. Open.

Q. Ernie, you said you didn't look at the scoreboard off the tee at 18. When did you look at it and did you play back to the fairway knowing that a 4-wood win and a 5 would keep you alive?

ERNIE ELS: I looked at the scoreboard when I looked at the balls to my drive and I when kind of looking at the shot today when it hit the tree and my caddie actually said to me, oh, woh, 5 under, he is leading, so that kind of got me back to the fairway and I thought if I make 5 at least I am in the playoff and that is the way it turned out.

Q. Were you surprised by the fact that 5 under was leading?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I was pretty surprised. I wanted to kick my backside when I saw 5 under, was leading, yeah, I was pretty surprised. If you look at it, if I played level par today I would have won.

Q. Ernie, on 17, did you know what-- if you had gone way left that you still had that drop birdie to salvage it and that you can take that chance?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, well, first of all, there was a bit of a breeze helping us from left to right, so I was aiming left to try and get it up in the air; let the wind take it, but I knew if I hit it long enough left, you know, I will get a drop, and I didn't intend to hit the ball there. I mean, I was going for the green, but as it turned out, I got pretty lucky and the ball was behind the stand and I had a good drop.

Q. Shot on 18, sitting on the fringe of 18, you could have -- what was your approach towards the hole; where did you want to put that ball?

ERNIE ELS: My second shot?

Q. When you were on the fringe. Fourth shot.

ERNIE ELS: What was I thinking or what-- ?

Q. When you finally made it up to the fringe?


Q. You had two to tie and could have made it on one to win. Did you think about that at all?

ERNIE ELS: Miracles do happen, but to knock in a 45 footer to win the U.S. Open, I was taking it a little far, I think. I was just trying to 2-putt it there. I was trying to get it as close as I could. I didn't want to get it too past from the hole. I just wanted to get it to close. I didn't get it close enough, but I was fortunate to make the second putt for 5.

Q. Could you just clarify the scoreboard, 18th tee, did you intentionally not look at it; forget to look at it or was it not up there?

ERNIE ELS: I didn't actually want to look at it. I should have looked at it if I look back now. If I looked back at it, I would have hit a 2-iron down 18, maybe it could have been a different story, but.

LES UNGER: Does that mean next time you will look at the board on 18?

ERNIE ELS: I guess I will, yes. Especially playing 18.

Q. Could you just talk little bit about your emotions coming off the 18th green; were you unhappy that you lost the lead or were you happy to just to have made that putt just? What was going through your mind at that point?

ERNIE ELS: I guess I was kind of happy just to have made that putt and when I was playing my third shot out of the divot I thought, woh, this can't be happening to me, and then when I made the 4 footer, I thought, well, you know, at least we got a chance tomorrow, so I guess I was kind of fortunate.

LES UNGER: Two more.

Q. At the 17th again, did you use the driver there the first three days and why did you take that risk this time when a shorter route might have given you a birdie?

ERNIE ELS: First of all, I lost my caddie where the flag was. Yes, I did use my driver the first three days. It is reachable for me; especially today, the wind was down and when I asked my caddie where the flag was he said it was in the back part of the green, so I had a lot of green to work with, even if I didn't get it onto the green, so you know, I took the gamble but I could have reached the green easily, I think.

Q. Ernie, prior to 18, when was the last time you had seen the scoreboard; what did you think your position was?

ERNIE ELS: Last time I looked at it I think was on 15, after I made the birdie. I think I was 7 under and Loren was 6 under, so you know, I knew I had to make at least the birdie on 17 to, you know, to really have a good chance of winning, but as it turned out, as I said, I should have looked at the scoreboard, maybe.

LES UNGER: Okay, Ernie, thank you. We will see you tomorrow.

End of FastScripts....

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