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November 4, 2001

Ernie Els


JOAN VT ALEXANDER: Great playing, Ernie. It was a fun competition out there today. Why don't you talk about that final hole.

ERNIE ELS: Well, yeah, I gave myself a chance, at least. I wouldn't say I played picture perfect golf out there today. I am quite proud of myself, just hanging in there the last couple holes. Birdie, I think, 15, and then birdie, I think, 18 to get in a playoff. Obviously, first of all, I would congratulate Mike on three beautiful shots and winning the playoff. All week I played quite solid. I felt I was hitting the ball well, as I said yesterday. Yesterday I played 18 holes without making any mistakes, getting myself out of trouble when I had to. And today I made some mistakes again. I missed a five-footer on 3 for a par. I felt that was a big putt to make. On 13 when I 3-putted for par there on a par-5, that was pretty big too. If I make birdie there, I would have been 13-under and I would have had a couple holes coming in to make some more. But, yeah, it didn't work out for me this week, and I will just have to play better next year.

Q. Could you talk about the shot you hit on 18. What it was in regulation and the shot you had on 18 in the playoff?

ERNIE ELS: Well, it was similar yardages, I guess, but it was different angles. (Laughter.) In regulation play it was a perfect 3-wood down the middle, and I had 150 to the hole, slight breeze behind me, downhill lie. I hit a wedge. Perfect yardage. Almost perfect shot, about four feet right of the hole, five feet right of the hole. It's a sneaky little putt to make under the circumstances. But I made that. And then sudden death. I made an awful swing. I wasn't aggressive enough. To be honest with you, I just wanted to put it in play and didn't make an aggressive enough swing. Consequently, I hit it right. I got to my ball and I was pleasantly surprised. I just had a tree in front of me that -- seemed like there were a million in front of me, but I just had to go over the first one, which was about 20 feet in front of me, and about 25 feet, 30 feet tall. So I had to get over that. I used the wedge again and I guess I hit it a little bit too hard. But I gave myself a chance.

Q. On the putt it looked like you started -- you looked like you knew you made it.

ERNIE ELS: I saw Sergio's chip from the back of the green and I was watching that quite carefully. He was on kind of a similar line of myself and David Toms, that we had. And it seemed like his ball didn't want to break off. I thought his ball was always right, and it almost went in, as you saw. And I felt I was going to play as much break, and I really thought that was five or six feet short of the hole, it was going right in. But it broke away in the end.

Q. 40 feet?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah. Probably 40 feet, yeah.

Q. Ernie, I know money-wise this was a good year, but I know you're disappointed with other things, but coming on strong at the end of the year as you have, is it a confidence builder even for an old veteran like yourself?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah. I played some good tournaments, like I said to you guys earlier in the week. It just seemed like I got in my own way, got a little hard on myself at times this year. From probably the British Open I felt like I really played a lot better. I just -- somehow I just don't score. I haven't scored this year as well as I should. I'll have to go back in the off-season and just see where the problem was this year and just try and rectify it for next year.

Q. The putter held you back most of the year?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah. I got to admit, yeah. I made my share of putts this year. And again, that's probably just the mindset on the greens. You're just trying to make everything and getting too hard on yourself when you miss a putt and then it kind of drags on to the next hole and the next hole. And you find yourself walking off 18 very frustrated. I just got to find a way of making some putts and if I don't, then they don't get to me so much.

Q. Do you approach the playoff any differently when there's more than two people in it?

ERNIE ELS: No, not really. Sudden death, my record is not very good in sudden death things. So you just got to try and make birdie, don't you? The first guy that makes birdie probably wins. That was the mindset, and I definitely didn't do that on the tee shot. I just put myself in trouble on the tee shot.

Q. You said you weren't as aggressive, I think, is what you said?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I just tried to get it in play, is what I say. If I could go back and replay it, I obviously would be a bit more aggressive and make sure I hit it left, because even in the bunker you were okay.

Q. Bunker is better off than where you were?

ERNIE ELS: Definitely. Kenny Perry was in the bunker and I was in the bunker earlier in the week. And out of sand the bunker was perfect, so it would have been fine. Thanks a lot.

End of FastScripts....

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