Els Seeks Atonement in India


European TourNEW DELHI -- After another disappointing finish in his first tournament of the year, Ernie Els is eager to clinch the inaugural Indian Masters during his first appearance in the country this week.
Els frittered away the chance of clinching his fourth Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday when he squandered a four-shot lead in the final round and watched Tiger Woods claim the title. Els finished tied for third.
'Losing to the world No. 1 is no disgrace, but it doesn't make it better,' Els said Wednesday ahead of the Indian Masters, which marks the expansion of European Tour into India.
'I had a chance. Not winning when I felt I should have won was tough to take,' the 38-year-old South African said. 'But it was the first event of the year. ... I can't kill myself over it.'
Els looked on the bright side of coming close to a title in his first tournament of the year.
'I'll have more chances like that. I've done a lot of work and feel my game will be good this year,' said Els, adding that his schedule this year was focused on the majors.
After playing in India, he will take a couple of weeks off before heading to Florida to begin a stretch of playing in the U.S. that will lead up to the Masters in April.
Els said he was bracing for a chaotic week in the Indian capital, where the Delhi Golf Club's gates have been opened to spectators and where golf is making a bid to capture the interest of large potential market.
'I hear they are opening up the gates, so I'm sure we will have a lot of people here,' said Els, who watched big crowds turn up during the past two days during challenger and pro-am competitions.
'It was quite nice with the people out there and to see their excitement ... taking pictures and saying how glad they were to see us in the flesh,' he said.
Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Nick Doherthy and David Howell and are among the European Tour stars who will try to master New Delhi's par-72 course.
American Mark O'Meara is also playing.
The Asian field will be led by Thai star Chapchai Nirat, and include Indian players Jyoti Randhawa and Jeev Milkha Singh.
Launched at the initiative of the European Tour -- in partnership with promoters Golf in Dubai -- the $2.5 million Indian Masters is jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour, which begins its new season at this event.
This season, 12 tournaments on the Asian soil will be part of the European Tour, which will return to India later this month for the $2.5 million Johnnie Walker Classic at the DLF Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of New Delhi.
With several new courses being built, golf is witnessing a boom in India.
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