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March 5, 2003

Ernie Els


GORDON SIMPSON. Five times you¹ve played here and never once over par. Obviously this place agrees with you?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I like it here, obviously. My very first round I played here, it was my second tournament I've played here, I shot 61 here. I've had some good tournaments. I really enjoy the place. Sometimes you go to certain places around the world and you just feel comfortable, and this is one of them. I like playing here.

The way the course is set up this year, it's probably a little bit tougher than previous years because of the rough. It's very lush. It's playing very long, so, it's difficult to get it out and to the hole. So it's going to be a little bit more difficult than previous years.

But saying that, you know, I really enjoy the golf course. As I say, I like the lines off the tees and the greens are quite soft. So if you get your ball up, you can shoot some good scores here.

GORDON SIMPSON: Your whole game has been pretty hot since December.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I've been having quite a good spell at the moment. Done a lot of traveling. But I feel that even with the traveling, I've had my weeks off here and there, and last week, not playing the week before, I almost feel like I had two weeks off. I've done a lot of traveling but it's been worthwhile. It's been a good start to my season.

Q. Shot 61 here?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, in '94, I think I have shot three or four 61s in a tournament. I played with Greg Norman the last day of that tournament, and at that time he was No. 1 in the world, won about a couple of shots. That 61 is right up there.

Q. Can you explain the process in deciding to come to Dubai?

ERNIE ELS: I was speaking with a guy yesterday, you play -- if you watch too much television -- inaudible -- you probably won't come. It's a very serious situation. You know, I can understand why they do that. It's quite serious. It's just a decision and now that I'm here, I'm happy.

Q. (Inaudible).

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, been speaking to other people out here and we've been -- unbelievably -- the hotel, it doesn't feel like there's people around me, and there shouldn't be because in this area.

I have a lot of friends here. I don't fear my safety at all out here. It's a great place to come. I think being here, I feel safe and it's great.

Q. Did you come straight here from La Costa?

ERNIE ELS: Flew to London and spent the night at the house there and then over here. The family have been with me for five or six weeks -- they came with me to Singapore and Hawaii and Australia. As I say, in America for a couple of weeks, and we really relaxed.

Q. Disappointed to spoil the sequence in Singapore?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, it's one of those things. I felt very uncomfortable on the greens . Just, it's one of those things. I made bogey on 18 with the flag where it was.

Q. Are you tired from your start to the season?

ERNIE ELS: I think the only one that might have been a mistake -- the one that took it out of me was the one in Singapore. It was a very long flight and getting there, it was maybe the tough one of the lot. Hawaii, we were there for two weeks in Hawaii, that wasn't a problem. And then I played the one in Singapore directly before Melbourne, and then I had a week off after that, played and then had another week off and then I was on the West Coast. It's crazy, but I really loved it. I've been doing this all my life. I've been doing this, it's probably 11 years now. So really, I mean, it's not all that big a deal.

Q. Have you got your own plane?

ERNIE ELS: Yes, a Gulfstream. I couldn¹t have done what I did going by commercial airline, I don't think my wife would have liked that.

Q. What did you do after California?

ERNIE ELS: I went to Orlando till Sunday morning. Sunday morning we went to England, stayed over at the house and then left Monday morning to come here.

Q. Are you disappointed not to line up against Tiger?

ERNIE ELS: He's unbelievable. He's incredible. Most guys -- closer than other guys, Mike Weir, Vijay, myself, we all do our thing, and he comes out and wins two-out-of-three. He's an unbelievable competitor and he's a great player.

You know, he just showed it again. He's just continued to do what he's doing. He's just doing what he's been doing for five or six years now and just playing like a winner. When he gets on a charge, he doesn't go away.

So, it's going to be fun. I think the other guys are playing better. We'll get our chance. I mean, you know, we'll play at Bay Hill and a few others.

Q. (Inaudible)?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I think so. My back is doing good, which is a good thing. I'm really just trying to get ready when I play tournaments now. I want to try and have my game ready, work on everything and -- you go to the golf course, you feel like things that can help you, it's a long day -- go to the golf course instead of letting all of the technical things. That's what I'm trying to get to.

Q. (Inaudible.)

ERNIE ELS: I've been going like Gary Player. (Laughing).

Q. What about the situation in Qatar?

ERNIE ELS: I'm not going.

Q. What would you decide it you were going?

ERNIE ELS: If I knew I was going to go -- to make the decision again, because you have to look at what's going to happen. You know, if something happened, you probably would want to get out.

Yeah, there are a lot of things happening in the world. As I say, it's not quite the way we understand it, and there are other things with what's going on and I guess golf wouldn't be a bigger deal, trying to make pars and birdies, not really doing anything else. (Laughter.)

End of FastScripts....

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