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March 7, 2003

Ernie Els


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, not the way you wanted to finish, Ernie, but you still played very well today.

ERNIE ELS: I played nice. I hit the ball really nicely, almost better than yesterday, especially on the back nine, but, you know, didn't quite go my way scoring-wise. I hit a couple, you know, kind of loose shots on the front nine, got up-and-down, a nice little par. The only bad shot I hit on the back nine was 18. The second shot I didn't quite get with a 4-iron, took a little bit of a chance there and it didn't work out.

Feeling quite good about my game and always looking forward to the weekend.

Q. Was it the wrong club at the last?

ERNIE ELS: What it was, you know, I was a shot ahead and -- if I pulled a shot off, I might make 3 and get away with it. Yeah, it didn't work out this time, but as I say, I'm in there and we'll see what happens over the weekend.

GORDON SIMPSON: Take some questions now.

Q. What's the yardage on 18?

ERNIE ELS: 215 to the hole. It's normally a good 4-iron for me and didn't quite get it this time.

Q. Did you know it wasn't right?

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I didn't hit it good -- I was trying to hit it a little hard probably and I didn't make a good swing on it. Things happen.

Q. Is it tiring always being in contention?

ERNIE ELS: I mean, you ask any player up here whether he would rather be leading or not leading. So I don't mind it at all. You just play as good as you can; and if you catch the lead, great, but if you don't, try again next time.

Q. With your schedule, are you more tired after a tournament, being in contention?

ERNIE ELS: I guess you'll be a little bit more tired. There's a little different feeling winning and losing. I've had both sides of the coin, so I would say winning doesn't tire you out all that much.

Q. Do you consciously think about keeping a bogey off your card?

ERNIE ELS: No, not at all. Now that you mention it, I just realized -- so, no, it's good the way I played. Only one bogey in 35 holes is always nice. I think I've gone longer than that before, but anyway.

GORDON SIMPSON: Your game is on a different level from 12 months ago, the same tournament from a year ago.

ERNIE ELS: Yeah, winning a major obviously puts you on a different level. When you win a major, you feel like you've gone up a step in your career. I would say from a year ago, I feel like I'm playing maybe a little bit better than last year. I won this tournament by a couple shots last year, so, it's hard to say. It's hard to explain to you guys. I'm just trying to play as good as I can, and you guys make up your own minds if I'm playing better or not than last year, you know.

Q. Where's your body clock at the moment?

ERNIE ELS: I've been gradually moving east, and like I said, I went to Orlando for a couple of days and then I went to London. So I guess losing at The Match Play was better losing in one big slice rather than getting into the bunch, so it was better in a way. I'm feeling good. My body is feeling good.

Q. We're all suffering!

ERNIE ELS: Going east is always the toughest for me. Going west is easy: You go to sleep early, you wake up early in the morning. Going east is always difficult for me.

Q. Was it tougher yesterday morning of this afternoon?

ERNIE ELS: No, I think it almost played a little easier this afternoon I thought. The greens in the morning are very fresh and nice, but the greens were beautiful this afternoon. In a way, the golf course played shorter than yesterday morning. The little sea breeze that picks up really benefits you on quite a few holes, some of the par 5s.

So I thought the course played a little bit shorter than yesterday morning. When I played the back nine, I really tried to attack a lot of the holes.

Yeah, if the wind doesn't blow, yeah, the golf course plays quite easy.

End of FastScripts....

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