home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


June 16, 1998

Ernie Els


LES UNGER: Well, Ernie, it is good to have you back. Why don't we just open up with the very subject that everybody would like to hear about, how is your back?

ERNIE ELS: Well, it is not 100%, obviously. It is not the way you really want to feel like playing in a major tournament, but I am defending here this week. It is a lot better than it was on Thursday. So -- but it is still a day-to-day thing. The guy is here. He is working on Freddy and Davis and quite a few other players, and he is very good. So you know, I can't for one thing sit down too long, so, we are not going to be here too long. But, he gave me some exercises to do and some stretching stuff, and you know, hopefully it is getting better. It is in the healing process now. On Friday when he saw me, it was really stiff and not really in good shape, and he worked on it on Friday for about two hours. Really took the weekend, really easy. I walked a little bit. He gave me some stuff to do and I did that. It was really a very boring weekend for me to sit at home and not be able to practice or do anything. But it is just, you know, obviously it is the wrong timing for me to get this kind of injury. But, I know I have got the right guy working on it, and if I can just get through the next couple of weeks without doing too much damage to it, I will be all right.

LES UNGER: Beyond saying a back injury, is there a more specific term? Is it a tear, a pull, a strain or any similar --

ERNIE ELS: It is probably you know, it is in the joint. It is coming from the lower back, and it is on the left side of the spine and it is just a couple of joints that really got stiff. The muscle started helping it out to turn and when that got tired of doing that, you know, it just kind of seized up a little bit. It went into spasm and to get that healthy, obviously, takes a bit of time and it takes the right bit of treatment. I think as Tom says I have got to try and just take it as easy as I can and although it is the U.S. Open, I can't really just go out and hit balls right now. Because that might flare it up again. So, the less tension I put on it, the better.

LES UNGER: What about the course as you sized it up today.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I played this morning. I played 8 o'clock this morning. I played with Nick Faldo and Jimmy Johnson and really had a nice morning. I think the golf course is in great shape. Obviously, you miss the fairway, it is going to be bogey or worse, but that is expected in U.S. Open-type conditions. But the fairways are just immaculate. The course is really a great course and if I feel good on Thursday, you know, I can see myself maybe having a good week. It is kind of a course which sets up well for me. You can't overpower this golf course and I don't think anybody can. You can't just rip a driver down every fairway. It is a golf course where you have got to be very patient. Playing boring golf again - trying to hit fairways and greens and make a par and head on.

LES UNGER: Just today is the first time you have played here or have you been here before?

ERNIE ELS: I played in 1994 at THE TOUR Championship. Played well the first two rounds and didn't play too good over the weekend, and today was the first time back, and today was the first 18 holes I have played since last Tuesday. So, it was nice just to play a little bit of golf again.

LES UNGER: Again questions.

Q. When you played tonight how much did your back affect you? Did you feel it as you played today?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I felt it. As I say, not as bad as last week. I mean, last Thursday I could barely swing through the ball and today I could feel it, but the pain was a lot less and that is why, you know, I spoke to Tom and he said, I have really just got to take it easy. When you feel that pain you don't want to aggravate it more. That is I'm probably not going to hit balls this afternoon and see how it goes tomorrow. But I felt a lot better. As I say, not 100%, not really where you want to be, but at least I can go out there and make a good pass at it.

Q. Do you have any idea after playing today what a possible winning score could be? We have had two players one said over par and other said 2-, 3-under would be enough to get it.

ERNIE ELS: The way the greens are now the greens are pretty soft right now and they are not as fast as they will be on Thursday, probably, but the fairways are quite soft at the moment. As I said, the golf course is not the longest one we have ever played, and, you know, I look back in the 1987 tournament there were quite a few low scores in that tournament. So, I would say a couple under par, you know, the usual stuff probably 4-, 5-under and probably most of the guys will take that and go sit in the clubhouse. You will probably be very safe. But I don't think over par will win.

Q. With this course where maybe you only hit your driver on about five holes, maybe that will work to your advantage with the sore back so you don't have to pull that club out of your back that often?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, that is exactly right. That is why I say as long as we don't play too long a golf course, I might be okay. Today, I took my driver out, let me see, 17, 16 -- probably four, five times, as you say -- quite a few 2-irons off the tees and 3-irons. As you say you have got to put the ball in play and take it from there. And it might work to my advantage, you never know. Be aware of the injured golfers as they say sometimes.

Q. Do you know exactly what happened when you hurt the back? Were you hitting balls or what were you doing?

ERNIE ELS: No, it was really -- it came over a period of time. I think my body has really been trying to look after it, you know, in a way. The muscle has been trying to look after the spine and it is from the travelling, really. That is what the guy said. Tom said it is from travelling, the golf swing is not all that bad for it if you don't over work it, obviously. But, I think over the last couple of years, travelling all over the place and, you know, sitting in an airplane, it is not the most comfortable place to be, but it is probably from the travelling and maybe overworked than anything else. Probably, you know, hitting balls for long period of time and standing on your feet. We play Pro Ams which takes six hours sometimes and standing on your feet, you know. I think just over the period of time just got really worse.

Q. What is it about your game, and, then more so, your personality which seems to be so well suited for the rigors of a US Open?

ERNIE ELS: Well, you can't get too far ahead of yourself to start off with. When you have had a good home put it in the bank and go to the next. You have got to try to play the tournament shot-by-shot. You hate bad shots try and recover as quickly as you can and take it from there. When you have made a bogey, you know, don't get too hard on yourself because par is not a bad score out there. So that is what I keep on trying to think about when I have had a bad start, a couple of bogeys, just try and stabilize yourself and try and do the best you can. That is what I've been trying to do. It is not like I am super cool out there. I do get angry, and it is just like anybody else, but as long as you just not get too far ahead of yourself and just stay in the present and play as hard as you can, you know.

Q. Does this mean you may cutback on your schedule?

ERNIE ELS: Well, we will see. We will see how it goes. Obviously I have got to take that into consideration now. Not to travel too much. But I really enjoy playing around the world, so I have really got to just reconsider and see how I go. See how the backs reacts in next couple of weeks and see how we feel. As I say, I have never really had any back problems. I have been quite healthy, touch wood-so far, so, it is not -- it is pretty serious, but it is not a kind of injury which is really going to affect my, you know, my schedule in years to come, hopefully. We will take it as it comes the next couple of weeks and take it from there.

Q. Would you like to be able to ride on this golf course?

ERNIE ELS: That would help, yes. (laughs) No, you know, walking is the best thing for my back right now. As I say, if I sit down too long, it doesn't do any good. It tightens it up a little bit. But if I had an Achilles heal or something, yeah, I would have loved to have had a cart.

Q. You said that the Pro Am, standing out there for 4 and five hours was the worst thing for your back.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, exactly, when you are not moving around and not walking around, I mean, it is pretty tough standing on your feet for five to six hours. I mean, especially stop-and-go. That kind of starts hurting a little bit. But, you know, walking is the best thing for my back right now. I don't think we will be out there for longer than five hours anyway.

Q. Never a good time for an injury, but is this particularly frustrating since you are trying to defend your title?

ERNIE ELS: It is very frustrating, especially last week you know, I have had such a nice record at Westchester. I have played really good golf there and I was really looking forward to that, especially after the week off at Orlando. And, you know, not playing; not being able to finish. I have never played nine holes and pulled out of a golf tournament ever, so that was very frustrating to start off with, and then as I said, you know, to go for treatment and not do anything over the weekend, I mean, that is kind of boring and it is hard for you. You are frustrated. I wanted to go out there and play and practice and get ready for this tournament, but maybe all these things happen for a reason. Maybe I should just slow down a little bit and take it easy for a couple of weeks and there will be more U.S. Opens and British Opens, but it is a little bit frustrating because I have been playing well this year and I feel that my game is coming around and it is just one of those things, I guess, I have just got to slow down a bit.

LES UNGER: Did you watch Westchester on television?

ERNIE ELS: I did and they probably didn't have a very enjoyable weekend either. They got pretty rained out there.

Q. Since you couldn't do anything else over the weekend I was wondering if you watched that -- the Chicago game and saw Scotty Pippen gutting it out with his back injury and what that was like for you to see that?

ERNIE ELS: That was obviously very good. I remember Michael Jordan last year in Utah when he -- I don't know how many points -- I think he made 50 points he could barely stand, I mean, had some kind of a cold and then Scotty Pippen obviously having back spasms, you can see he was in obvious distress, he gutted it out. Obviously, playing in the finals and the title on the line, they really needed Scotty and I mean, he did what he had to do. Obviously, you know, pretty heroic effort from him.

LES UNGER: They were very accommodating. They see you squirming here a little bit and massaging a little bit so we are going to let you go. We hope there is a reason to have you back here in the next couple of days.

ERNIE ELS: I hope so. Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297