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June 11, 1996

Ernie Els


LES UNGER: We welcome a surprise visitor this early in the day. Congratulations, Ernie, on a terrific victory last Sunday. A walk in the park, I guess, you may put it, but how about just going back on your recollections of a couple of years ago and last Sunday - those are two fond memories.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, two years ago it was great. I played Westchester the week before the Open. Didn't do as well at Westchester as I would have liked. Finished second there, but I won the U.S. Open, so I guess it was as great a warm-up for me. This year, I went on to win Westchester, so I have a lot of confidence coming into this week and hopefully we can maybe have a repeat of 1994, maybe after finishing second there, maybe win this one this time. Hale Irwin did it this time, but he was -- Westchester was after the U.S. Open. It is kind of been done before.

LES UNGER: Have you had a chance to play Oakland Hills yet?

ERNIE ELS: No, I flew in yesterday afternoon. I just came to check in, got my badges and stuff, got my car, just moved out to the hotel, you know, took a rest. I am ready to practice hard today and get to see the golf course, looking forward to it.

LES UNGER: We are going to take questions. Please raise your hand, allow a microphone to get to you so the recorders can capture every word of every question so we know exactly what is said. So we will take questions now.

Q. Ernie, even though you haven't seen this course, from what you have been told, can you give me an assessment of what you expect how this course will play during this Open?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I hear it is fairly long. I played with Greg Norman the first two rounds last week. He played here in '85. He obviously hits the ball pretty long. You got to try to get the ball to fall from left-to-right on a lot of these holes. You don't have to really cut the ball a lot, but just try and, you know, hit the ball up softly down left-to-right. Obviously, I looked down by 18 yesterday. It looked very narrow. The rough looks up, so yeah, it is like any other U.S. Open course. It is going to be really tough, reasonably fast and firm, so you know, it is probably not going to be a lot different than other U.S. Open golf courses except for this one. I have read in a couple of articles that guys have written that they call this "The Monster" or something; so it is probably a tough golf course. I have got to go see it and check it out to see it for myself.

Q. Ernie, give me an assessment of your game coming into the Open this year versus 1994.

ERNIE ELS: It has kind of a couple of similarities, I guess. As I said I finished second two years ago. I played really well. Lee Janzen beat me down the stretch at Westchester two years ago. I felt I was playing really well. When I got to the U.S. Open at Oakmont, I felt really comfortable with the golf course, and I was playing well, so I really enjoyed that week, but I guess I got a lot of confidence again this year. Really had a good win on Sunday. I have to go out and check the golf course out today, but I feel comfortable with my game. I feel I can, you know, bring that confidence out this week and maybe have a good week, but I am feeling good, feeling good about my game and looking forward to it.

Q. Do you feel that it will take a little bit longer than you expected to settle, to play in America, after your victory two years ago, last year was a little bit sort of downhill; now it seems to be --

ERNIE ELS: I never -- I never had a great year like in 1994. Last year was quite a learning experience for me on the U.S. Tour. I had to get used to the golf tournaments to the golf courses. I built a house last year, so I have settled down. We moved into the house the end of last year, so we have got all of those obstacles out the way and I feel a lot more comfortable. Obviously, I am going to be playing my golf in America in the future. I'd like to -- I am going to play in Europe and around the world still in years to come, so I am going to be traveling around, but the U.S. Tour will be the tournament to be playing on. I feel a lot more comfortable now. I know some of the golf courses now. I have played it a couple of times so it feels a lot better.

Q. Ernie, about this golf course, anything in particular that suits you?

ERNIE ELS: I think you have to edge your long game this week. Last game I hit my driver pretty well. Missed a couple of fairways, but that is my game. I miss fairways. My putting is coming back a lot. I am putting pretty well. Missed a couple of putts again, but I feel my putting is good. I think you got to have your whole game here this week. I think a really good player will win this week; a guy with a complete game. There is a lot of players out there in the world now that can play golf properly the way it should be played, and I think one of those players will win this week.

Q. Who do you think will be dangerous to you? Talking about complete games.....

ERNIE ELS: I heard this morning that Nick Price pulled out and Fred Couples pulled out, and they were two of my favorites right there. But you know, guys that are in form at the moment, I would say a guy that really impressed me is Mark O'Meara, he is probably -- played some of the best golf of anybody this year. I would say Colin Montgomery, obviously. He has done well at U.S. Opens before. He has done well in a lot of Majors and he finished second last week, I saw that. Myself, hopefully. Greg Norman. There is a lot of players. Probably 15 guys that have a very good chance, I would say.

Q. Ernie, after this time and before the British Open, can you tell us your schedule?

ERNIE ELS: Before this tournament?

Q. After this tournament.

ERNIE ELS: From now on, I am playing well this week, I am taking a week off next week; then I am going over to Ireland, playing the Irish Open. I am still thinking about playing the Australian Open. I might do that. They are playing it on a golf course -- I think they will have the Open there in '98 or '99. I'd like to see that golf course. I am playing the British Open after that and then I think I will have a week off. I will come to the states. I am playing the Andersen Consulting, playing against David Frost there my first round and then the Buick Open in Michigan; then the PGA. Obviously, after that, I will play the International at Castle Pines. I really enjoy that golf course. Pretty full schedule right through to September.

LES UNGER: We wish you good luck.

ERNIE ELS: Thank you very much.

LES UNGER: Hope you may come back to sit with us. That will mean things are going well.

End of FastScripts......

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