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Els Has Swing in Good Shape for Open

LUSS, Scotland (AP) -- Ernie Els' confidence is soaring as he prepares for the Scottish Open, a final tuneup before he defends his British Open title.
Els spent two weeks at his Wentworth home outside London, relaxing in the pool with his family. After other similar breaks from golf during his career, it sometimes took a while before he was comfortable with his game.
'But not as much this time. I'm fresh,' the South African said Tuesday in advance for the Scottish Open.
'Really, I feel my swing's already there,' Els said. 'I had two great weeks off with the kids. The first week, I just spent at home. I didn't move. Just in the pool. We had nice weather, and I just relaxed.'
He ventured out a couple of times after that just to hit some balls. Fortunately for Els, the Wentworth course -- home of the World Match Play championship -- is right next door to his home.
'I didn't want to totally stay away like I do at the end of the year, so I spent a bit of time on the course,' he said.
He can't wait for next week at Royal St. George's to start the defense of the British Open title he won at Muirfield last year.
'I'm really looking forward to it,' Els said. 'I actually wanted to go down there last Wednesday, but they were predicting showers and awful weather so I decided against it.
'But I've played it a couple of times before. Obviously I played it in '93. I played well and finished sixth. I've been there a couple of times since then.'
He arrived at Loch Lomond for the Scottish Open on Monday to hit balls and was hitting confidently again Tuesday.
Els, who won the tournament in 2000, is among a stellar cast for the tournament, joining a list that includes Phil Mickelson and John Daly as well as a handful of rising Americans and most of the top Europeans.
Fred Couples has withdrawn to rest a back injury, still hopeful that he can join the field at St. George's next week.
While Els is optimistic about the state of his game, Jose Maria Olazabal is not.
'The accuracy with the irons is not good,' Olazabal said. 'I'm hitting most shots left and that gets into your mind. So when the pin is left, I'm bailing out to the right side. And the putting hasn't been good enough so make up for that. It all adds up.'
Olazabal has never won at Loch Lomond, and his best finish at the Open was third in 1992.
'It's one I felt I had a good chance to win when I was in my early 20s,' he said. 'But for whatever reason, I haven't done that well. I've always struggled on the greens.'
Related Links:
  • British Open Home
  • Bio: Ernie Els
  • Full Coverage - Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond
  • More European Tour Preview Information

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