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March 1, 2013

Ernie Els


Q.  Were you surprised by Rory walking off?  Did you see anything out there?
ERNIE ELS:  I don't know, what did you see, Geoff?  You were there this morning, so it's unfortunate.  I'm a great fan of Rory's, but I don't think that was the right thing to do.

Q.  Did you notice anything that his tooth was hurting at all?
ERNIE ELS:  Hey, listen, if something was bothering him, you know, it was bothering him and all credit to him trying to play through whatever pain he was in.  He obviously couldn't do it after nine holes anymore.  Toothache, it's not fun I guess.

Q.  Did he say anything to you before he departed?
ERNIE ELS:¬† No, we just shook hands.¬† I was going nuts on 18 there on the rules official, because we had mud on the ball‑‑ I mean, crazy stuff.¬† Then I think he hit his shot first, he hit it in the water, and then I followed him in there.¬† I was dropping my ball and I realized he wasn't dropping his ball.¬† I thought maybe his ball crossed further up.¬† When I hit my third or fourth shot, he just came up and said, here's my card, I'm out of here.

Q.¬† You've been very high in the world for a long time, could you ever have imagined yourself walking off in the middle of a round‑‑ of his stature‑‑ did you ever do it during all the years?
ERNIE ELS:¬† He's feeling terrible about it, I know he is.¬† That's the last thing he wants to do is walk off.¬† Yeah, if he's 7‑over or whatever he was, you've got something bothering you, you know, the rules of play, you can walk off at any time.
Obviously something was seriously bothering him, and he was not going to make the cut and probably didn't want to continue playing that way.

Q.  He also said in a statement that he felt he was affecting his playing partners.
ERNIE ELS:  Well, all credit to him, but no.  I've played like that before.  It's embarrassing.  You don't want to be out there while you feel like, get me out of here.

Q.¬† Have you ever‑‑ inaudible.
ERNIE ELS:¬† I've been around a long time, I don't think so, no.¬† I know at the German Masters one year, I played the 36th¬† hole, hit it in the hazard, had a couple of blows in the hazard and basically walked into the tent (laughter).¬† I was ten‑ or 11‑over.¬† I don't recall walking off, no.

Q.  Did you get the feeling something was bothering him out there?
ERNIE ELS:¬† Well, not physically, no, but as you say, toothache, you can't see it, but something that's‑‑ I'm sure we've all had that before.¬† It's not a lot of fun.¬† It's definitely going to get worse when you're not playing well.
So you know, I didn't see anything, but if he had a toothache, that's what it is, you know.  Hey, it's tough.  If you ask him how he's feeling now, he's obviously feeling terrible for what's happened this morning.

Q.  Probably going to take the scrutiny to an even higher level.
ERNIE ELS:  Yeah, unfortunately, it seems like it's kind of building now a little bit.  I didn't think much of the equipment change.  We've all made equipment changes before.  I think there was a bit of criticism somewhere, and then I think he's furthering responding to that, and I think he's got a bit of pressure coming on him that way.
I thought he played quite well yesterday.¬† I thought he was pretty close to playing good golf, and unfortunately this morning‑‑ hopefully he gets it together.¬† We've got next week, got four rounds there.¬† You know, such a talented player, he'll get it figured out.

Q.¬† You should have had ball‑in‑hand today, I know you got one on 16, 18.
ERNIE ELS:¬† Yeah, that's one of my little things on TOUR here.¬† I just cannot see the point where you hit a perfect tee shot and you get penalized with mud on your ball.¬† Then it's a guessing game.¬† I mean, you've got water all over the place.¬† Yeah, I fought on that, and it just got to a point‑‑ (laughter) some money I'm going to have to donate to charity or something (laughter).

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