Q. You said you had been on the other end of the food chain, and that sounds similar to what David Duval is talking about, experiencing the highs in the past and right now he's going through the lows. Do you have any sympathy you can offer towards that? How good of friends are you with David? Any advice or anything that you can say to him?
ERNIE ELS: You know, that's golf, and life and golf, it goes hand in hand. Your personal life, I mean, he's had some injury problems in the last couple of years with his wrist and his back, and now I'm not sure what he's got right now. It really affects your game.
You've got to be physically ready to play this game. If you're not, it's going to -- you're not going to hit the shots that you want to hit and it's going to affect your ability to play the way you want to play and eventually your confidence goes a little bit.
We know, and he knows, what a great player he is. He's won so many times on the Tour and around the world. We all go through those slumps. We all have been through there and if you haven't been through it, you will go through it. There's just no way of ducking that in our game.
He will get through it because he's got so much talent and he's a great guy. He doesn't hang his head. He's coming out to play in tournaments not being 100% fit, so it says a lot for him.
Q. What are some things he can that he can do?
ERNIE ELS: First of all, he's got to get healthy and take it from there. Some people like to play through it. Sometimes when I'm in a bit of a slump, I like to play through it and other times I just take time off.
I remember one year after the Masters, I shot 80 in the final round. I just felt I needed time off and took five weeks off. I came back and I was a different player again.
Q. Back to next week at THE PLAYERS. Is part of what makes that tournament what it is the fact that, I guess next to Augusta, the spectators, it's probably the course that everybody knows the best, is that part of the personality of that tournament?
ERNIE ELS: Definitely. They almost let too many people in there. It's like a football crowd. There's so many people there. It's true stadium golf; put it that way. I don't think there's a tournament like that on the Tour spectator-wise. I think the closest one to it is maybe the U.S. Open last year. They get pretty fired up.
The college kids take the week off if they don't have the week off and Spring Break and all of that stuff. It gets quite wild out there.
Q. You said earlier that in order to get to the level that you are trying to get to, you have to make some sacrifices. What sacrifices have you made and when will you decide whether or not they are worth it?
ERNIE ELS: Well, you sacrifice your time, a lot of time. You've got to put in the time to get to the next level. It doesn't just happen. You know, you get the help that you need. I've got the help from Leadbetter. I've got the help from Jos, I've got the help from Ricci and obviously my wife. But you sacrifice your time away from your home, where you actually really want to be, to get where you want to go to your career.
I'm in a situation now where my little girl is going to school next year. We've decided to do that in London and I'm going to play a lot of golf in the United States. So, it's quite a lot of -- there's quite a lot that goes into your decision if you want to go flat-out. I've made that decision and my wife is with me, my family is behind me, I've got other people behind me. You know, who knows, when I'm done, I'll tell you if it was worth it. But I think it will be worth it.
Q. You said last year that there were times when you practiced hard but may not have practiced correctly, but now you are maximizing your practice time. What changes did you make to focus on what you need to do?
ERNIE ELS: Just making sure in your own mind what you really want to work on, not just going out there just to hit balls.
When I feel like I'm swinging well, I might just go out there to totally work on my lines, just really get my fundamentals right. When a stroke is there, I might just hit balls for 20 minutes, but keep working on my short game.
I think my putting has come around a little bit in the last six months or so, so I just keep working on my short game. Your short game has to be 100%.
When things feel good, you know, then don't beat yourself up too much. I don't have to be out there all day.
Q. Yesterday, obviously, was not what you wanted; would the Ernie Els of two years ago have been able to come back as well today as you did today?
ERNIE ELS: Well, yes and no. I've done it before. Let's call it the old guy -- yeah, I've done that before. But I've also gone the other way a lot more times.
I feel that I would not say it's getting easier, but I'm not as hard on myself as I used to be. I think that's a major factor at the most. Hopefully it stays that way.
Again, maybe it's family life, maybe I'm getting older, maybe I've got more experience, but it's not life-and-death anymore. There's always a next week.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Ernie.
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