Upbeat Els in confident mood

2006-08-16 11:47

Medinah - Ernie Els likes his chances at this week's PGA Championship on a Medinah Country Club layout that reminds him of a US Open.

South African Els, US Open champion in 1994 and 1997, has set his sights on a career grand slam and needs the PGA and the Masters to complete the set.

"This course is in great shape," three-time major winner Els told a news conference on Tuesday as he prepared for Thursday's opening round.

"It's got some length in it but it's also got some holes where you can try and be aggressive and make some birdies.

"There are a lot of similarities to a US Open, but I don't think the greens are going to be as penal and you can get the ball out of the rough a bit easier.

"That's why I'm happy to be playing on a great golf course like this one because I feel like I have a good chance of winning this week."

Els, whose third major victory came at the 2002 British Open, missed the cut in his first two PGA Championships and has generally not done as well in this major as in the other three.

However, the prospect of emulating compatriot Gary Player's career grand slam gives him extra motivation.

Grand Slam

"I'm really looking forward to try and complete the grand slam, that's my own little goal that I want to achieve in my career," he said.

"I haven't won the PGA or the Masters, and those are the two events that I'm really chasing."

After being sidelined for four months at the end of last year after twisting his knee on a family sailing holiday, Els has not yet managed to hit top form this season.

Putting has been his main problem but he appeared to have that in control when he finished third in last month's British Open at Hoylake.

"My putting for some reason hasn't been quite up to my standard," the 36-year-old said.

"My ball-striking has been okay and I wouldn't say I've been playing terrible golf. I haven't been totally off the map.

"But I just haven't been at the level where I was maybe two, three years ago. Here and there, I've tried to push a little too hard in some rounds where I could have just let the round be.

"At the British Open, I started putting better. I started working on a couple of mental aspects of putting with (sports psychologist) Bob Rotella and I feel like a couple of fresh ideas came about. I'm kind of working on that at the moment."

Els launches his PGA Championship bid in the company of Spaniard Sergio Garcia and American Fred Couples at 20:15 SA time on Thursday.

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