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October 1, 2013

Ernie Els


Q.テつ A lot of talk already that Adam saying this is a big week for the Internationals, a defining week as far as The Presidents Cup, were you guys talking about that at all?
ERNIE ELS:テつ It's just like any other Presidents Cup.テつ We are coming in, and you know, we want to perform and try and win the Cup back.テつ We haven't done it since '98, and we had a tie in '03 I think.テつ So it's been a while.テつ So, yeah, I think the guys are up for it but I don't feel any more or less importance.テつ We feel we want to get in there and give it a good showing and hopefully get more points than the U.S. Team.テつ It is what it is.

Q.テつ How tough is it when the crowd is against you?テつ Is that overblown?テつ Do you guys even hear that stuff?テつ You're pretty good at blocking stuff out, but events like this, does it effect you?テつ Is it an advantage?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Well, definitely there's a home‑course advantage, home crowd and stuff like that.テつ But obviously the U.S. crowd is right behind their team.テつ It's natural, isn't it.テつ I mean, anywhere you go around the world, you get your home court fans and they can really boost you.テつ But we've played in these things a lot of times.テつ We've played around the world a lot of times.テつ You know, when you play in Japan, the people are shouting for Japanese players; you play in South Africa, they shout for us.
We have come across fans like that.テつ Obviously this week, it will be very loud, but they can't affect the shot you play.テつ They are quiet when you are over the shot.テつ When you are not over the shot, they get a little crazy.

Q.テつ What's the vibe on the team?テつ There seemed to be a lot of laughs and joking in the team photos.テつ Is it a fun vibe, relaxed?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, we have got a really nice team.テつ We have got some really nice guys on our team.テつ All of them are great guys.テつ We've known them for a long time.テつ Yeah, we're pretty loose, and that's good.テつ The boys, they are into it.
I played this morning with some of the guys and they played really well.テつ So, you know, the guys are up for it.

Q.テつ You have the most experience here and you've had success here and won; what key thing do you share with the team as far as the approach to the golf course?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, I think I've got quite a bit of experience around this place, winning here in '04, and I had quite a few good finishes there for a while.テつ So I love the course.
A lot of the guys have asked me, you know, a guide around the course, so I've been kind of a tour guide there so to speak, telling them where to hit it and how to play some of these par 3s and so forth.
I'll keep giving my input, but the guys have got their own game plans and stuff like that.テつ But I think with Scotty, myself, Angel, guys who have played this course many times, I think we're giving our input.

Q.テつ Do you think it's a course that lends itself to match play?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, most definitely.テつ I think it's a wonderful course.テつ Got some great par 3s.テつ You've got some water around a lot of the par3s, and they can play some of the holes up, so they can make it really exciting coming in with shorter irons.テつ They have got great spectator mounds all around the course.テつ Par 5s, depending how you play them, you can reach all of them if they play that way.
So they could really turn it into a birdie‑fest and then they can also make it really tough.テつ They have got some length, also.テつ So I think it's a great golf course.

Q.テつ How is your game?テつ You had a nice week last week?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, I played a little better, thanks.テつ I was a bit slow on Sunday getting off the blocks but it was nice to see some putts rolling in.テつ Around The Open Championship and right through the FedEx, I never really caught fire anywhere.テつ It was very mediocre golf.テつ So to finally make some putts and a couple of low rounds was nice to put that on the board.
But I'm looking forward to a nice break.テつ It's tough to get a break nowadays.テつ We're going to play some tournaments in Asia, also, but after that, I'm going to take two months off.テつ I'm longing for that.

Q.テつ Did you chat much to the guys last week about strategy?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, we've talked about strategy.テつ We've talked about, you know, playing the course and match play and so forth.テつ I've had a bit of success in 36‑hole match play in my career, so I've given them my input.テつ It's all there.テつ The guys, they have listened a little bit.テつ But these guys are great players in their own right.テつ You can only give input and at the end of the day, they are hitting the shots.テつ I'm not‑‑ nobody else is hitting the shots for them.テつ So we have done a lot of talking.

Q.テつ I think you have been in every one except the first?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, and the other one in '05, I was out with my knee.テつ I was gone with my knee, so I missed two.テつ So I played quite a few of these things.

Q.テつ Do you have a feel how it's changed since the beginning?テつ Has it grown the way you would have thought?
ERNIE ELS:テつ I'm a player.テつ I mean, you guys write how you think it's grown or not grown.テつ You know, it's a pretty big deal.テつ I mean, there's a lot of media around.テつ I think these media centers and the hospitality stuff is a lot bigger than it was back in the day.テつ Obviously golf is pretty big around the world, so I think it's really grown very well.
A little bit like the Europeans with The Ryder Cup back in the day; not quite finding the formula, but maybe we can find the formula this week and get over the winning line.テつ And then maybe it really can take off.テつ But really, only we're playing and we are playing an unbelievably strong team so we have to try and find a way to beat them.

Q.テつ How many guys from your foundation, three?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Branden and Louis obviously, they were full‑fledged foundation members.

Q.テつ What's that mean to you?
ERNIE ELS:テつ It's quite weird, yeah, we just kind of‑‑ just kind of blended.テつ They are pros now.テつ They were juniors and then they were amateurs and now we are professionals and now we're playing together.テつ It's very weird.テつ It's hard to explain.テつ It's maybe‑‑ maybe when I'm done one day I'll feel different, but they feel like just another pro.

Q.テつ Branden said he was 16 or 17 and hiding in the left dunes in the second green when you and Tiger were playing in the dark; did he ask you about that?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, he was asking me about it today.テつ He said, I couldn't remember that much (laughter).テつ He asked me, was I nervous on those putts and so forth.テつ I said, what do you think.
Yeah, it's weird.テつ I mean, Louis and Branden, and Charl; I've known them since they were so young, and now they are playing on the big stage.テつ It's quite nice.

Q.テつ You must be proud about that.
ERNIE ELS:テつ Absolutely.

Q.テつ And your foundation‑‑
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, we got pretty lucky to get talent like that.テつ And we have got some more talent now in our foundation again.テつ It's a work‑in‑progress all the time and we are trying to show them through, hopefully keep it going.テつ They have really laid a great foundation.テつ They are great kids‑‑ well, they are not kids anymore, but you know what I mean.

Q.テつ With a guy like Jason Day who is a member at this club who has probably played here 200 or 300 times, what does that bring to the international team, a guy that this is his home course and he plays here three times a week when he has a chance?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Well, that's a beautiful thing about the International Team is that 80 percent of us play on this tour.テつ We live in the U.S.,テつ so it's kind of weird.テつ We travel with foreign passports; we live here and play this tour.テつ It's a weird deal.テつ It means that it's not such a foreign venue for us.テつ Me personally, I've played here 20 years.テつ Scotty has played here many, many years.テつ Jason lives here.
It just shows you; it's not a home course for us, but it doesn't feel that unfamiliar for us.テつ It should be fine for us.

Q.テつ What were your thoughts today when you got a chance to play the new tee on 18?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Good change (smiling).テつ You were right.
It was downwind, thank goodness.テつ So I hit 3‑wood and 7‑iron, so I don't know how much it cost Jack Nicklaus or the members, but I can imagine it cost a lot of money, because there was nothing back there as far as I remember.テつ So he must have moved a lot of dirt, and then he had to re‑design the road, but it's good.テつ It's a good change.テつ I mean, it plays more like it did 20 years ago.

Q.テつ What's it like having Johann Rupert here?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Great.テつ Actually got a lift with him from Scotland yesterday morning.テつ He's a member here.テつ He's a member of the captain's club, and obviously Johann has been an unbelievable influence in golf around the world and in South Africa.
So for Nick to have done what he's done for Johan this week, bringing him into the team a little bit, I think that's a great gesture.テつ He's one of the people who have golf running in his blood; he's so passionate about it, and he's done a lot of work for us in South Africa and around the world, so it's great to have him around.

Q.テつ The golf bag, has that materialized yet?
ERNIE ELS:テつ I can't comment on that.

Q.テつ What are you going to do with your two months off?
ERNIE ELS:テつ I'm going to be home.テつ I'm going to be home and I'm going to be doing the school run with Samantha and Ben and just chilling.テつ I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that.テつ Really take it easy.

Q.テつ How would you describe your frustration level of having not won this thing in so long?テつ High?テつ Medium to high?テつ Super high?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, but we don't want to over‑play that scenario.テつ It is what it is.テつ It's not like we are going in there and trying to lose, we are playing a very tough team who is, you know, just‑‑ they have got their pairings right.テつ They have got a lot of things going on their team.
We changed quite a lot, our team.テつ But I don't want to make excuses.テつ We are here to play, to win the Cup back, and that's what we are planning on doing, and hopefully we got our pairings right and we can play good golf and make more putts than the other team.テつ But yeah, it's not fun being on the other side.

Q.テつ I don't want to make light of this, but having lost badly the last couple times, did it ever reach a level where you just didn't care anymore?
ERNIE ELS:テつ No, no‑‑

Q.テつ Do you get a point where you're so frustrated‑‑
ERNIE ELS:テつ No, I've always felt that we've had a chance to win.テつ Even though on Sundays, when we were way behind, always felt that we could pull it out.テつ But it hasn't quite happened.テつ But there were a couple of close ones.
Obviously the tie and then I think the one right after the tie was pretty close and you know, we just have been out‑played, simple as that.テつ We've just got to play better.
We've got a good team this year.テつ We've got some youngsters who haven't been knocked around as much as some of us have, and these boys want to change things, so that's fine.テつ But there's a long way to go, as you know.テつ You've got to is that right Thursday very strong and keep it going all the way through Sunday.テつ It's not going to be easy.

Q.テつ What do you look forward to the most in match play versus stroke play?
ERNIE ELS:テつ I haven't really thought about it that way.テつ I do feel it's a course where you can make a bunch of birdies, but if you are marginally off, some of your second shots, you're going to be punished.テつ So that's why I think in the foursomes, you're going to have to maybe adapt a little different game plan than in the four‑ball.テつ Four‑ball obviously you have two chances going at a flag; if the one guy hits the shot and then it comes off, second guy can go exactly the same.テつ If the one guy doesn't quite get over, then you play a bit safer.テつ But in foursomes, you only can have one shot at it, and you're obviously playing alternate‑shot.テつ So that's always been the tricky deal in our team.テつ So we'll see how it goes.テつ Obviously a different strategy we'll apply.

Q.テつ And the rough‑‑
ERNIE ELS:テつ That's true, and that's going to make it a bit more playable.テつ Guys will be going for shots and I think both teams like that.テつ I think both teams are quite long off the tee and quite aggressive players.テつ So I think the fans might appreciate that, too.

Q.テつ There's been years where you've had four or five different languages on the team.テつ What's the dynamic for you to have so many South Africans?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Yeah, it's different.テつ This is a very different team.テつ I think at most, Retief, myself, call Nick Price South African, Southern African; if you go back to Mark McNulty, that's back in the 90s, early 90s and I never played with Fulton Allem; I think he played the first one.テつ But these are most South Africans we've had on the team.
It's quite lively.テつ These boys are quite lively.テつ They remind me of myself when I was in my 20s.テつ They like to have a go, you know what I mean.テつ It's nice to have them around, keeping the energy up.

Q.テつ Did they try to get you to cut your hair?
ERNIE ELS:テつ I didn't even recognize Charl when I walked in the room.テつ Walked straight past him and I had to kind of do a double take.テつ It's like, what the hell happened to you.テつ It was like, they don't even cut our hair like that in the army back in the day.テつ (Laughter).
But they won all the money today, the two little rascals.テつ We had a ton of money we played for and they won the most money.テつ Maybe they can grow their hair with that something.

Q.テつ Do you watch The Ryder Cup, and do you wonder why they struggle in that, knowing that you're pretty much playing the same guys?
ERNIE ELS:テつ I think it's a momentum thing.テつ I think the last one was really one of the more exciting ones.テつ I really didn't think that the Europeans would pull it out, but it shows you, you've beaten a side before, you know you can do it again, and I think that's the European motto.テつ They feel like they can beat these guys.
And it's a momentum thing, and that's the thing we need to change.テつ We kind of are under the rock at the moment and they are holding it over us.テつ If you don't get on the other side, it's a momentum shift that you're looking for.
The tie that we had in '03 almost felt like a win because we didn't lose, so those are the kind of energy things that we need to be building on.テつ You know, each session is very important, but at the end of the day, it's a momentum thing, and guys start believing and you start hitting unbelievable shots.テつ When you feel you're up, you hit great shots.テつ When you're down, it's almost like you're trying a bit too hard and I think that's where we might have been the last couple of Cups.

Q.テつ Difference between Nick and Greg captain‑wise?
ERNIE ELS:テつ Well, you know, Greg did a hell of a job.テつ I mean, he was really a great captain and a great leader.テつ And it seems like Pricey is exactly the same.テつ He brings a lot of energy in.テつ He's very clear in what he wants from us.テつ He's been very clear on the schedule, and similar to Greg.テつ Both of them have been excellent captains.テつ Nick so far has been flawless.テつ He engages a lot with the players.テつ So he's spot‑on.
The difference between the two, I don't know.テつ We've only been around a day.テつ Maybe ask me that question on Sunday.テつ But so far, both of them have been great.テつ Nick's been absolutely flawless.

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