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Ernie Els First Round Interview Transcript

Mercedes Championships - Kapalua, Hawaii
Q. You were saying yesterday, which didn't register at the time, that you weren't real confident this time a year ago, but you're a lot more confident in how you're playing now. What was up last year?
ERNIE ELS: Last year at this time, that's a full year ago, I was coming out of '99 season, a lot of things happened. I didn't play very well that season. Especially the year before, '98, I didn't play well either. The main problem was my performances in the majors. You know, I think before '98 I had a very good record in the majors. For some reason, '98, '99, I didn't play well in them. I felt like I lost out a little bit, you know, on confidence, whatever it was. I just didn't feel like I was the same player as I was in '97. Coming here and playing so well was one thing, but I don't think I had that extra, which you need.
Q. So the fact that you played well in the majors this year, at least certainly the first three, won a couple of times, you feel like you're closer to where you feel like you should be?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, more in that direction. I'm closer to where I want to be, yeah, definitely. Not quite there.
Q. How good was it for you to get off to a good start, obviously you want to play well early in the year, but also after maybe not winning last week, and after last year, losing in a playoff? Now, sitting here, are you pretty happy to have this kind of score?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah. I mean, you know, it always helps your year when you start off pretty strong. I played a good Masters, which was very early in the year. It's the first week in April. My game was almost back on form by then. I think the start I made here was good. I think, again, this year I want to try to do the same. I want to get off to a strong start. I definitely want to try and win a couple more times this year. You know, I just want to get into that Sunday afternoon group of players where you have a chance to win. That's all you can ask for.
Q. Is there a stigma to taking a penalty, unplayable lie? If you're up against a tree, will you do anything?
ERNIE ELS: I think as a player, yeah, it kind of goes against our beliefs (laughter). You know, if you can see it, you can probably play it. That's kind of what we want to believe in, you know. You know, sometimes it definitely works in your favor. You know, I think most of the guys have some kind of skill, out of any kind of a situation, we definitely try and go in there and have the belief that we can get the ball out and do it. So, yeah, I do whatever I can to not take a penalty drop. I would say I'm also in that group of players (laughter).
Q. I asked because Woods was up to his knees on 9. A, he finds it, which none of the chops in this room could find. He found enough balls to keep playing for a week.
Q. Yes. Then he was able somehow to get it out of there into the bunker, right in front of the green.
ERNIE ELS: Did that there last year, as well.
Q. Did he?
Q. He knew how to do it? He's got that shot?
ERNIE ELS: He had a chance, he had a chance (laughter). He's a little different out of that stuff than any of us, you know. Showed that a couple of times.