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August 20, 1999

Ernie Els


LEE PATTERSON: A couple thoughts about today and heading into the weekend.

ERNIE ELS: Well, I had a rough start to my second round - started on 10, made a double-bogey there and fell back to 7 points and, you know, after that I played really good front 9. I think I made -- I birdied 12, 13, 14 and I birdied 16 and 17. Actually lipped out on 17 for eagle. But that got me back into a good frame of mind; played a good solid back 9. Unfortunately, I hit my tee shot into the water on 9. Got away with a bogey. But made nine birdies in all in my round today and I am pleased with that obviously. I put the ball in play and took it from there. That is what you got to do. I have got a bit of experience around this place. I just tried to play it the way I guess you should be playing it - putting the ball in play off the tee and then attacking the flags from there. You can always say my round could have been better, but, absolutely horseshoed the ball on the hole on 17 for eagle;, missed birdies on 7 and 8. I will take it. I am back in the tournament. After my start, I could have been just playing for the cut. But I hung in there and I am at 24 points trying to chase the leader.

Q. Did you water it on 10?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, second shot. Driver in the right rough, I thought the ball was going to fly out of there and hit a 9-iron, should have hit an 8-iron.

Q. Water on 9 and 10?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, first and last holes. Hopefully tomorrow I can keep them dry.

Q. If somebody were to tell you that you could bypass 10 in this tournament, would you go to the 11th tee? You have had a history on that hole; hasn't been too kind to you.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, actually it is one of the most beautiful holes when you stand on the tee, you know, it is one of the toughest holes to play too. As you say, I have made my fair share of mistakes on that hole and mainly on the second shots, but which you can't do. But I have made a couple of birdies on it too. It is just -- you can't hit it short on your second shot. With my experience around this place, I should know that. I guess golfers are kind of dumb sometimes. You just make the same mistakes sometimes. But it is a beautiful hole. I mean, I think 10 and 14 are the two most beautiful looking holes when you look at them.

Q. Did you come into this week thinking this is a great tournament for me; good opportunity to get a win?

ERNIE ELS: Not really. I have been hitting the ball quite nicely. This is my third week now. I have played well at the Buick Open and last week at the PGA I was hitting the ball kind of okay, but I just totally lost it on the greens and really got in my own way. I missed the cut there. That is not always nice to miss a cut at a major. So I took some time off over the weekend and you know, I always like coming here. I always have a nice feel when I come here. I feel like the course suits my game and I have played kind of well in the past year. I am staying with my friends here, so it is really just a very comfortable week for me. To be honest with you, I am still not really thinking of winning it. I am just trying to play well and see where I finish.

Q. How is Tommy Vickers cooking, by the way?

ERNIE ELS: He is not a bad cook. He is all right. He can pass in South Africa as a barbecuer.

Q. How about a wine steward?

ERNIE ELS: Hopefully Sunday.

Q. Could you give us your clubs and distances on the birds?

ERNIE ELS: I started on 10. Made the double-bogey on 10. On 12, I hit a 3-wood and a wedge. 15 feet above the hole. Made it. 13, I hit 3-wood and a sand iron, two feet, holed that. 14, I hit it in the left, drove it in the left rough, hit a 4-iron just short of the green, pitched it up to about six feet, made a good one there. 16, was a 5-iron, short hole, about 18 feet, holed a good one there. 17, 3-wood, 5-iron and missed the putt, lipped it out from about twelve feet. 1 was a driver, 3-iron and green-side bunker, out to about six feet. Made that. 2, 3-iron and wedge about 15 feet, made that. Made a birdie on 8 -- excuse me, made birdie on 5 as well. Hit drive and a wedge about five feet there,. 8 was a driver in the right rough, 7-iron lay-up and sand iron to about six feet. 9, I drove it in the water. Made 5.

Q. These greens this week good to putt on? The best that you have seen in the years you have been here?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, last year was kind of, you know, they got unlucky with some kind of a mixture they threw on the greens, whatever chemicals weren't right, so normally this golf course is in the top 3 on Tour, condition-wise and scenic-wise it is No. 1 by far. Jack Nicklaus, I love playing his golf courses, he is a great designer. And the Vickers family, Jack, looking after the place, I mean, this is -- it is a great course, altitude even though it is seven and a half thousand, it is playing kind of short this week. But condition-wise it is in the top 3.

Q. Which are the other two?

ERNIE ELS: Well, Muirfield and probably Augusta.

End of FastScripts….

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