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August 4, 2001

Ernie Els


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Good round today. Great finish and looks like you are going to have a pretty good position heading into the final round tomorrow.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I'm happy with that. This week, it's just been tough for me to get going on the front nine. Ever since the first day, really, I haven't played the front nine well. But for some reason, I love the back nine. I've really made my points on the back nine, and today, again, you know I got fortunate a little bit here and there. Especially with my bunker shot out of 15, for birdie there followed it up with an eagle on 17 and birdie on 18. So, really made it happen on the back nine so far this week. I'm pleased with that. I see I'm at 26 points, and 29 is leading at the moment. So all in all, I might be about six points behind -- even eight points, that's still okay, so I'm in with a shot tomorrow.

Q. The bunker shot at 15, was that the one that really turned you around?

ERNIE ELS: The one before that on 14, I pulled my drive left and laid it up short of the green, short of the water for my second shot. And I was way too close; I had 50 yards to the hole and that is one of the toughest shots, especially over water and a front flag. So I hit it past and made about a 20-footer for birdie. That got me to 18 points, and I was watching the board, you know. I was actually just trying to make the cut at that stage. Then I made that bunker shot on 15 and definitely after that, I felt very comfortable and I had a good finish. Kind of hit a poor shot on the 16th, my tee shot, and 3-putted that hole. But I can't complain about my finish.

Q. Does that finish give you momentum going into tomorrow and how much of a factor will that be?

ERNIE ELS: I hope so. I really don't -- I really will try to take this into tomorrow and try to continue. As I say, I haven't played very well the front nine, so if I can really get going a little bit and give myself some chances, you know, hopefully I'll be in for it with a shot. But definitely, as you say, the finish was very big, to get me back into the tournament, and now all of the sudden I've got a chance tomorrow, so it's nice.

Q. I noticed after your round on 18, you took a nice look at the leaderboard. What were your thoughts going through your mind at that point?

ERNIE ELS: Well, exactly. You know, I just looked up to see who was leading and what kind of a score was leading and I see 29 was leading. Seems like Vijay and Tom Pernice is leading. Vijay has been playing some brilliant golf. He's been playing good all year. Tom is a very good player. So I was just looking and I was kind of pleased where I got to. Especially going into the back nine with only 16 points.

Q. Yesterday before your eagle, did you have the same mindset?

ERNIE ELS: In a way, yeah. You know, but you know when you -- I wouldn't say I was just playing for the cut, but you know that every shot is very important. That's kind of the bottom line. Yesterday on 15, I made a really good tee shot and I had a good feeling about the shot, and you know, I can't say I knew I was going to make it, but, you know; I got fortunate. The ball went in the hole and that just kind of changed the whole mindset and all of the sudden I've got a few points, and that really changes your -- your outlook on the tournament from then on. So today was very similar. The bunker shot on 15 was nice. I just felt like things were coming my way. So it's a good feeling.

Q. How do you adjust your game for the scoring system here?

ERNIE ELS: Well, you know, you've just got to try to be aggressive. You know, you've got to try to play your game. You've obviously got to try and stay away from double-bogeys, as you are playing aggressively. I've made -- today, for instance, I made four bogeys, four birdies -- excuse me, five birdies and an eagle. So on a normal stroke-play event, that's not great. That's 3-under par or something, but in this for that the I've got a lot of points. I've been kind of up-and-down, but I've stayed away from double-bogeys.

Q. You are obviously feasting on the back nine a little bit. What are your thoughts? Are there any explanations at all for the front side?

ERNIE ELS: No. To be honest, no. I've just -- I've missed some really easy shots wedges and 9-irons. I've mis-clubbed myself and got myself into some bad situations over greens and short of the greens. When you are going in with wedges, you are thinking, birdie, obviously. I think with the elevation changes -- although I've been coming here a long time, it still gets me a little bit. You feel that, you know, you've got a certain yardage in your mind and you think you've got to really bust this club and the ball just flies over the green and I've done it quite a few times this week, especially over the front nine. I think that's been my problem.

Q. Could you talk about the change in 8, whether you like it or not, and then could we get the birdies and bogeys?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I tell you, that's one hell of hole now. Really good drive up left, and I hit it pin-high left, but they have deep roughs down the left side. I was in a real awkward place there. I was just about 20 yards from the hole. I tried to bump-and-run it up the green and hit it over the green and I actually ended up making -- the only criticism I can give is it's really tough to cut your shot in there because the green is awfully elevated so you have to fly it all the way up there and when you miss it left, you're really getting punished. So tomorrow if the tee is back there, I'm going to lay up. You know, I've really got to get a good drive to go for that green. Although I hit it pin-high today, I really had no chance of getting on the green.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Let's go through your birdies and bogeys.

ERNIE ELS: I birdied the first hole. I hit my drive right. Laid up short of the green. Hit a wedge to about ten feet. Made the putt. Second hole, I hit a good drive down the middle. Hit my wedge short into the bunker and couldn't get it up-and-down. Made bogey there. 3, I hit a good drive down the middle. Hit a 9-iron to only about six feet. Made that for birdie. 7 was a bogey. I hit 8-iron into the bunker, left. Couldn't get it up-and-down. 8, I couldn't get it up-and-down. 9, I bogeyed. I hit a 7-iron left of the green pin-high. Really in a very awkward place. Hit it by about 12 feet and missed the par putt. So beautiful, beautiful front nine. (Laughs). 14, 15, you know. The bunk shot until the back bunker was only about 20 feet from the hole. 16 was a bogey, but I hit it short right. Had an awkward putt to the back left. Missed about an 8-footer for my second putt and bogeyed there. 17, I hit a 3-wood, 5-iron about 20 feet and made that one for birdie. 18, I hit kind of a poor drive. Hit a really good 6-iron to about 10 feet and made that one for birdie.

Q. After three rounds now, what are your thoughts on what it is going to take for you to be standing where you were last year?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I've really got to get going tomorrow, obviously. I'm in pretty good position. I don't have to go to sleep in the lead although I like being in the lead. So I'll go out there and play my game and really try to get momentum, as you said, early on and just keep it going and just try and have a nice, strong finish again. I think it's going to be tight this time. I think there's quite a few players in it, and I'd like to be in that group the last couple of holes.

Q. Where was the first ball; the first tee shot?

ERNIE ELS: The tee shot finished about ten feet inside and kind of laid it up down there and hit a wedge inside and got fortunate there, too. Wasn't looking good.

Q. How is your health?

ERNIE ELS: Very good. Very good.

Q. Back is not bothering you?

ERNIE ELS: Back is very fine and feeling good.

End of FastScripts....

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