Golf-Not so easy for Els this time in Shanghai

Updated: 2007-04-22 17:11
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After missing out by a single shot in the U.S. on Monday and playing a course he dominated in 2005, Ernie Els looked in good shape to bury his U.S. Masters dippointment at the Asian Open this week.

It was not to be, though, and the three-times major winner, who missed the cut at Augusta for the first time since 1995 earlier this month, struggled on the Tomson Golf Club greens and ended up joint fifth.

"I hit the ball from tee to green pretty well but my putter let me down for most of the week," he said. "The course played tough this year, but I've enjoyed myself."

The 2005 Asian Open was a whole different matter. Then, Els shot 26-under-par to win by 13 strokes, a contrast not lost on the man known as the 'Big Easy'.

"You think 'how did I make all those birdies?'," said the world number five.

"The greens are still the same and the hole is the same size and I feel in many ways I hit the ball better this week. That's golf.

"Last time I was here all the breaks went my way. I came out of the trees and was making eagles and birdies.


"I guess it does affect you but wouldn't say it made such a big difference to my approach this week.

"I knew I wasn't going to shoot 26 under. I was still a little surprised with the way I putted as last week I putted well and everything was in place.

"Out there sometimes I speak to my caddie and say I made birdie here and eagle here. It was all happening last time."

Though he won on home soil back in December last year, Els has not added to his career haul of 15 U.S. Tour titles since late 2004.

"I have been trying to win a tournament for a while," the 37-year-old added.

"Every week I play I want to feel I can win ... I don't feel I have let myself down. As long as I can stay committed to shots and give myself the best chance, I am happy with that.

"If I win, great, if I don't win, I have to keep doing that and I think at the end of the day I will start winning lots of tournaments again."

The globetrotting South African left Shanghai for a business trip to New Delhi on Sunday but his main golf focus is getting ready for June's U.S. Open, a tournament he won in 1994 and 1997.

"I have to work on a couple of things," he said. "I just have to start getting the putts in the hole. There's quite a stretch to the U.S. Open but every week counts."