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WGC ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP


February 20, 2014


Ernie Els


MARANA, ARIZONA

JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Thanks, Ernie Els, for joining us.  Give us your comments on the round.
ERNIE ELS:¬† Yeah, it was one of those once in a lifetime shots, really.¬† I was in the downhill on the back of the bunker.¬† The bunker is in front of me, the hill in front of‑‑ other side of the bunker, and I had two options, either to try and hit it with a bit of spin and get it on the green and there was a bit of bank behind the hole where I was trying to feed it back.¬† And I caught it a smidge thin, and it just came out perfectly.¬† It hit the bank and just trickled over to about four feet.¬† It was an impossible shot, but it was obviously the right one at the right time.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
ERNIE ELS:¬† We were going right into the sun and I knew where the flag was today, you want to miss it left.¬† But I was on a bit of a bank in the fairway and I had 5‑iron.¬† I hit it really well and I felt like I held it, meaning holding it against the wind.¬† And when I looked up, it took off into the sun which was just right at the flag.¬† I thought it was perfect, but then I lost it.¬† And I spoke to Colin and he said he saw it go violently left.¬† And I thought, Oh, shit.
And to make matters worse, it was on the side of the hill.  I thought it was down there.  Justin was in a better position than I was in the bunker.

Q.  How is the dormant grass playing this week?  Was that part of the shot, too?
ERNIE ELS:  That was the first time I was on that stuff all week.  We play on that stuff in Florida, but I have that kind of stuff around the bunker, it was my first time out of that.  I'm 0 for 1.

Q.  Did you have any idea how close Justin was on the first playoff hole before you hit your approach?
ERNIE ELS:¬† Yes, yes.¬† I stood on the hill and he was taking some time because there was a bit of breeze flirting around.¬† And I saw his shot.¬† I knew exactly where he was.¬† I had to play exactly the same shot.¬† It was the only shot you could play to get even near it at all.¬† We both had short irons.¬† I think he hit 9‑iron and I hit wedge.¬† But we started playing better golf when the chips were down, you know.
From 15 in‑‑ 16, I really didn't play very well.¬† I played the wrong club off the tee.¬† But coming in, we made clutch putts, up‑and‑downs, it was a tough match.¬† It wasn't great golf.¬† But it was a great match play match.

Q.  On 18, you had that putt before on that green and it hasn't worked out for you.  What did you see in that putt?
ERNIE ELS:¬† You're right.¬† I've hit that putt so many times.¬† I just guessed right.¬† I could kind of see my chip shot go past the hole.¬† And I saw it was just moving towards the left.¬† But the influence on this course goes towards the west, so‑‑ but the grain was going to the right.¬† I played it just inside left and it kind of held there.¬† For once I made it.¬† I've missed it many other times.

Q.  How much do you enjoy match play?  Obviously you have a good history over the years.  Just talk about coming back.
ERNIE ELS:  I don't know if I can say I enjoy it.  But it's a different experience every time.  It's a battle.  Sometimes you're up for it.  I found myself at times not being quite up for it.  I think I've dragged my fellows down the last couple few days.  Justin didn't play very well, and Stephen didn't play very well yesterday.  It's a matter of who is going to gut it out.  And that's, I guess, the nature of match play is how much you want it.
Obviously I've had some success here and there at Presidents Cups and world match plays and so forth.  But in this tournament I haven't done that well.  Hopefully I can go further in the tournament now.

Q.  Feeling tired after the last two days?
ERNIE ELS:  I'm 44 young years old.

Q.  Sounds like you're maybe not quite happy with where your game is at this point.  What's the story there?
ERNIE ELS:  Well, with Adams, new equipment, under the guns when you're really being tested.  I've hit a couple of loose drives here and there.  A couple of wedge shots that are really very short on me.  I'm getting used to the ball and the wedges.  It's a bit of a process at the moment.  I feel like I'm swinging quite well.  It's just that little bit of doubt now and again that creeps in, especially under the gun.
Yesterday I skyed a 3‑wood to the left, which I never do.¬† It's just finding the feel of the golf clubs.¬† And I'm really, really starting to enjoy it.¬† Under the gun now, I hit a beautiful drive on 18 and 1 and 2, so things are coming around.

Q.  Coming down the stretch, is that some of the best clutch putting you've had in a while?
ERNIE ELS:¬† Yeah, that's the way I used to do it (laughter).¬† The mind got in the way.¬† And on the short putter, I'm starting to‑‑ I'm trying to get more comfortable with it.¬† I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent there, but I'm getting it in the hole somehow.
But that's what I used to do.  I've had a long career.  Obviously I've had my problems on the greens here and there.  And I'm battling through it.  So far so good.  As I said, I'm glad I've gone to the shorter putter.  It's 37 inches long, but it's a short putter for me.  It's starting to feel good.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  You've got Jason Dufner tomorrow in your match.  Maybe some comments about his game.
ERNIE ELS:  He's a quality player.  You know, we're obviously not going to talk much tomorrow.  You know, he's a quiet guy and he plays his game.  He's a tough competitor.  He's a Major champion winner now.  So you're going to have to make something happen.  I'm going to have to play better golf.  I'm going to have to get under par and make birdies and so forth.  It's not going to get any easier.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Ernie Els, thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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