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THE HONDA CLASSIC


February 27, 2013


Ernie Els


PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA

JOHN BUSH:テつ Welcome back to The Honda Classic.テつ Just get some comments.
ERNIE ELS:テつ It's good to be back.テつ You know, this is home now, so wonderful to crawl out of bed and come play a golf tournament.テつ You know, obviously winning here a couple years ago was really great.テつ I'd love to do well this week.
The course is playing really long, so great field, and the people are very excited and I think it's great for the local community.

Q.テつ Take us back to that day, a few years without a win on this TOUR, just comment on that.
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, I went through a bit of a rough spell there after my knee.テつ I didn't win anything on the US PGA TOUR.テつ Eventually winning here, I was happy to break that not‑winning streak and it really got things going for me.
After that win, I even bought a house here and moved my family here, so it meant a lot.

Q.テつ You've won at Bay Hill; what is it about Florida in general, you've done well here and Doral; is there a common denominator?
ERNIE ELS:テつ There's a lot of times you have to play in wind, and I like playing links courses.テつ This is nothing like links golf, but you have to play certain shots in windy conditions and you have to be a half‑decent ball‑striker.テつ The courses are quite long.テつ You have to be in control of your ball flight, and obviously the greens, a lot of the guys don't putt on grainy greens, so I kind of figured that one out, also, living down here.

Q.テつ Conditions you saw out there today?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Unbelievable, there's no wind today, but you know it's going to come.テつ This golf course, this finish here, it's one of the best, so got some great finishing holes.テつ You have to play hard right to the end.

Q.テつ Ricci Roberts on the bag indefinitely?
ERNIE ELS:テつ He's on and I've do the Colin Byrne, Ricci Roberts is going to caddie for me and they will bag share.テつ So it's good to see Ricci back.テつ Hes had quite a few things going on physically, so great to see him back and Colin is a great guy, I've known him a very long time, so we'll be a partnership here and there.

Q.テつ Caddies in general‑‑
ERNIE ELS:テつ Well, I think both these guys are very experienced, you know, to say the least.テつ You know, we had to look at how Ricci's recovery is going to be and how he's going to feel.テつ I really didn't want to let Colin go, and if Ricci breaks down and Colin takes another bag, then I'm starting from scratch again.テつ They both decided, you know, agreed to a bag share this year and we'll see how it goes from there.

Q.テつ As far as Mr.Finchem's announcement on Sunday, what are your thoughts?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Well, you know, you've got to give the Commissioner credit, supporting his players.テつ And you know, going against what the governing bodies want to do or might be doing.テつ He came out and made his position very clear where the TOUR stands on that issue, and you know, obviously you're going to have different kind of reactions around the world, but at least the rest of the world knows where he's coming from and where what the TOUR stance is, and that was important to do.
So we'll see what the golf bodies announce, the USGA and the R&A, and we'll go from there.

Q.テつ No player has been more global in your generation and has been aware of both the dynamics of the PGA TOUR and European Tour more than you; The European Tour might go in a different direction, do you see that happening, and do you think that will add a lot of chaotic‑‑
ERNIE ELS:テつ You know, The European Tour is a very global tour.テつ They have over 40 events around the world, and I would say just taking a guess, I would say half of the events are co‑sanctioned.テつ They are not a tour standing on their own, so for them to come out and say, you know what, they are going to go with the USGA and R&A, they are talking about on their own‑‑ let's call it, I'm guessing, half of the tournaments, which is 22 events‑‑ you know, that's another twist.テつ Because what's the Asian Tour going to do; they partner up with golf tournaments around the world in Asia; if the Asian Tour says no, they are not going to do it, what do the European Tour players do now, and same with the South African Tour.
I'm a member of the South African Tour, and they have not made a statement, they haven't had a meeting and they haven't had a discussion where that's going to go.テつ There's about seven events in South Africa or eight events in South Africa co‑sanctioned with Europe, so who knows where the South African Tour is going to go.
So this thing needs to be talked about a little bit and we'll see where we go.

Q.テつ Winning The Open last year, how often do you think about it, once a day, once a week?
ERNIE ELS:テつ No, at least once a week.テつ And this week, probably every day, because the Jug is sitting in the house, so I cannot miss it; I walk past it every day.テつ

Q.テつ When you look at the success of the South African players at the Masters, is it a generational thing?テつ Has there been a passing of the torch?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Like anybody growing up, the Masters is such a special event.テつ It's built up quite heavily in South Africa, also, and seeing how my previous generation and Gary Player and Nick Price and so forth and myself getting close and not winning; and then Charl coming through and winning and Louis, we have some really solid players coming through.
The golf course suits these guys because they hit the ball quite long, they are good short game players and good, solid players.テつ So that kind of golf course, those kind of players will like it.

Q.テつ Have you passed anything on to Louis at all?テつ Is there anything specific or do you guys just generally share knowledge about the place?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, we talk.テつ He's learned quickly.テつ He liked it quickly.テつ He's a long driver of the ball.テつ He hits the ball miles.テつ He's a great short game player.テつ I mean, Louis is the type of player that can be No. 1 in the world.
He can win six, seven majors, he's got that kind of talent, and same with Charl.テつ Charl has a heck of a game, Louis is more natural, Charl is more technical, but they are both unbelievable players.

Q.テつ And what about you getting a green jacket?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Hey, they think I'm done, so‑‑ you know, we are not quite done yet, we will see where it goes.
Maybe last year was a good thing, because going in there, my game was coming around, I was playing good golf, but when I didn't get in, I was actually glad I didn't‑‑テつ especially late.テつ Hopefully I'll go there with some game and have a good event.テつ It's always exciting to go there.

Q.テつ I know you've gone back and forth over the years, conventional you've won three of your majors with.テつ A lot of players said since they made the announcement in November, they have thought about it and researched it, and their opinion has played.テつ Like a lot of players are now okay with it.テつ Has your changed?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Well, listen, I've used it now for a year.テつ You know, again, when I won The Open Championship, I was 71st in putting.テつ I made a great putt on 18 which I'll remember for the rest of my life but I was still 71th in putting.
Why I went to the belly putter was that I felt uncomfortable on shorter putts.テつ I think I'm a little better.
Overall, putting, I don't think I've improved to the point where I think, you know, this is a magic wand.テつ It's still a lot of hard work.テつ I've seen the work that goes in with getting comfortable with long putters, and obviously I've won a lot more tournaments with the short putter.
So I have to support the guys using the long putters, because I've seen the work that goes in there, and I can't find any specific reason for anybody to ban the putter.テつ Webb Simpson when he won the U.S. Open, he was No. 1 in putting; and I definitely wasn't No. 1 in putting, I was 71st.
When Keegan won in Atlanta, I don't know where he was in the field in putting.テつ So this notion to ban it now, to me, is not right.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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