What they said: Ernie Els

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CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome Ernie Els here to the media centre, two?time World Golf Championships winner and The Open Champion this year.

Talk about coming to China, I don't know if you've been on the course yet, but your impressions of Mission Hills and this event so far.

ERNIE ELS:Thank you, it's wonderful to be back. I haven't been back to Mission Hills for I think 11 years. The last time I was here was at the other facility where we opened the golf course, and for some reason, I haven't been back since then.

So it's nice to be back and see the changes. Obviously it's my first time at this facility, and played nine holes yesterday on the golf course. And since my mishap or my injury on the tennis court, it was my first bit of golf.

So it was nice to stretch the legs and see where the ankle is, and yeah, I'm looking forward to the week.

Q. Could you just sort of detail what sort of treatment you're having on the ankle and what sort of prescription drugs you're on?

ERNIE ELS:Yeah, I mean, it happened -- what's today, Wednesday? Yesterday was two weeks since the big fall. So it's been quite a lot of work. I've got Vern, your fellow Aussie, working on my ankle and he's as good as they come.

It swells up and it comes down a little bit. It's a little painful but I can hit it and I can walk, so Advil -- you can take Advil, right? Advil and some Celebrex and I've got a strap.

Q. You mentioned that you played nine holes yesterday; what were your impressions of the course and what will your game strategy be for the rest of the week?

ERNIE ELS:Well, it's an amazing golf course. They have done amazing things here. It was a very difficult piece of land, and I think what they have done has been amazing. There's a lot of elevation changes, so there's going to be a lot of -- you've got to figure out the yardages, so that's going to be a little difficult.

But I think the course is right in front of you, the bunkering is unbelievable. The course is in really good shape. And we have had a lot of rain, so I think scoring is going to be good, too.

So I think the fans and the tournament should really enjoy it. I think it's going to be a bit of a birdie?fest here and there.

Q. There's a photo very popular showing you and The Open trophy in the locker room, just staring at your trophy. What was on your mind on that particular moment?

ERNIE ELS:Just happiness. Just happiness and nice to have a trophy in the hands again (smiling), like a baby.

Q. The world's No. 1 and the world's No.2 wasn't here this week, and then he was in some other part of China. As a player, do you think players looking at this tournament, this WGC event, is different from the rest of the other two? Does it make a difference?

ERNIE ELS:Good question. I'm not sure why they are not here. You know, they played on Monday, I think they played last week. I think Rory played in Shanghai and Tiger played in Malaysia. They normally play at the HSBC Champions tournament.

It's very, what's the word, how their schedule worked out, that both of them missed this week is kind of -- what's the word -- things happen. Unfortunately both their schedules worked out this way. I think HSBC and the tournament will miss them, No. 1 and No.2 not to be here.

You know, you can't play every week. You can't play everywhere. But they will surely be missed here. Schedules are schedules. I think Rory has to defend in Hong Kong I think next week or the week after, and might have a lot of golf to be played and that's why they are skipping. I don't know why they are skipping, because it's a wonderful event. It's unfortunate they are not here.

I think I was looking for coincidence (laughing).

Q. As your Ernie Els Foundation is in South Africa has had players like Branden Grace, he won four times on The European Tour this year. So what do you think about the future of South African golf and also the Chinese young golfers?

ERNIE ELS:Yeah, I think South African golf is really in fine shape. We have got great programmes, junior programmes, amateur tournaments, we have got good weather and all of that stuff. You know, young kids they have got no restrictions. They can really go out there and play.

I think we are always going to have really strong golfers coming out of South Africa, and I think the same in Asia. I think when the ball starts rolling over here so to speak, you start seeing one Asian player doing really well, he's going to pull a lot of youngsters to be like their hero.

We have been playing golf quite a few generations in South Africa and it takes a couple of generations to really start getting the ball rolling as I say. So you've got some time for it to start building, but when the momentum comes, I think Asian golf is going to be very strong in ten, 15 years' time. It's already starting.

Q. Not so sure if this is a two?part or three?part question. Not too sure, is the Claret Jug here this week?

ERNIE ELS:Unfortunately not.

Q. In relation to winning your second Claret Jug, do you find yourself in these few months since you've won it, enjoying the company of the second Claret Jug more or do you have a better time already with the first one -- if you've had a good time already with the second one, what's some of the most bizarre sort of situations that people have introduced it to?

ERNIE ELS:A little bit more quiet on the second one; I'm getting older (laughing).

Q. Have you been traveling just as much with it?

ERNIE ELS:Yes. I actually -- this is the first week I haven't brought it unfortunately. I should have brought it here. I mean, it's a great event. You know, I had so much luggage already to get on the airplane, but in any case, I didn't bring it.

But I've had a great time with it the second time around. The first time was quite something. I remember I didn't -- I don't think I went to sleep for about at least 20 hours.

This time around, we were down at Wentworth afterwards, and, you know, I wasn't going to have a big party, but eventually we did have quite a party. But it ended a lot earlier than my first time around.

It's always been exciting and it's just a wonderful, wonderful trophy.

CHRIS REIMER: Ernie, thank you. Good luck this week.