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February 20, 2002

Ernie Els


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome Ernie Els to the interview area. He was the 4-3 winner over Jeff Sluman in the Accenture Match-Play Championship in the first round.

If you could get us started with some comments on today's round, with maybe some general match-play comments, a little different than most of your play.

ERNIE ELS: I knew it was going to be tough with Jeff. He's that kind of player that never goes away. He doesn't hit too many bad shots, and doesn't make too many mistakes. So I felt that, you know, I knew it was going to be tough. You know, I started with a birdie on the first and to win that hole, birdie the second for half and Jeff actually made a mistake on 3 and missed a short putt for par and gave me a hole there; I was 2-up there.

Then I kind of 3-putted on 4 and gave him another one back.

And after that, we played very solid. We didn't make too many bogeys. You know, I strung a couple of birdies together on the back line, on 11, 12 and 13 -- no, 12, 13, 14, excuse me. I made those three birdies and pulled away there. I parred on 15 or a 4-3 win.

I made five birdies and a bogey, so I played quite solid.

Q. Is it a different feeling, this is potentially the only real one-day tournament you would play all year?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, you know, I said yesterday, you might as well almost have the bags packed, that kind of a thing.

But you want to be positive. You want to go into the match feeling that you're going to do well, and so forth, but as you say, you know, 18 hole match-play, that's a very short match. Today I got my nose in front and kept it in there. Jeff had a hard time coming back at me. You know, he missed some putts, and that was the change in the match.

But, yeah, you know it's a totally different tournament, so you've just got to take almost just shot-by-shot, you can't even take it day-by-day out there.

Q. Do you feel pretty comfortable here? Your match-play record is really good.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I think I'm probably a little better at 36-hole matches. I seem to start off a little slow sometimes, and then I kind of try and work myself back into it.

A little different mindset here this week, obviously trying to get off a little more aggressive and be in the match from the first hole. I think my match-play record has been very good in the past. But the last couple of years, I haven't played too many good match-play tournaments, so I'd like to do better.

Q. You're one of the few guys that have been at this event all four years, and have progressively gotten better each year, you were in the semi's last year. Have you taken a different approach from the first year to where you are today?

ERNIE ELS: Basically, I think the golf courses we've played, I think the one we played last year suited me a little better, the one in Australia. I felt that the golf courses there are a little bit harder than the one here this week. You hit a lot of short irons into these greens and it become a little bit of a putting contest out there at times.

I think last year, the course suited me really good. Seemed like, you know, a couple of matches last year, I was just 1- or 2-under par and I won some matches. But yeah, you take the positive out of it. Yeah, I feel a lot more comfortable out here now, and today I made five birdies so, that's not a bad score.

Q. Does it make any difference to you who you play next?

ERNIE ELS: Well, yes and no. I know the guys so well out here, you know what their games are like. Like I said, today, you know, Jeff-- I knew was going to hit every fairway and basically every green. I had to really play well. It will probably be the same tomorrow. I'm either playing Tom Lehman or Hal Sutton, and they are very similar. They might be a little longer than Jeff off the tee.

But, yeah, you've just got to really play well every match this year.

Q. Do you have to keep the bags almost packed every day a little bit?

ERNIE ELS: I think we'll unpack a little bit now, a little bit more. You just want to get through the first day, I guess.

Q. Are you and Jeff Sluman, are you both use the same kind of driver? I think he's using the 320?

ERNIE ELS: I'm using the 300 Tour, the deeper face. I've been using it since November last year. It was pretty good.

Q. Since THE TOUR Championship, the first one?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, first one, THE TOUR Championship.

Q. Do you feel that this might be your year?

ERNIE ELS: This week?

Q. Generally, with the success you've had over the last few weeks?

ERNIE ELS: It's hard to say. But, you know, I've been playing quite nice the last couple of months, and I've been working on a couple of things many in my game, my approach.

So, yeah, hopefully I'm looking for a positive and good year. You know, you can't predict. You can only go out there and do your thing, so hopefully it will be a good one.

Q. Are you here in the States now for a while?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I'm here this week and then next week in Doral. I'm going all the way over to Dubai and I'm coming back for Bay Hill and TPC. So got quite a schedule the next couple of weeks.

Q. What's your secret to reducing jet lag?

ERNIE ELS: To sleep and drink water and hope for the best.

End of FastScripts....

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