HKO Preview What They Said

Wed 15 Oct 2014

HKO Preview What They Said

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Ernie Els (Rsa)
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Many thanks for joining us, as always, and welcome to Hong Kong.  Great to see you here at the golf tournament.  Before we talk about this week, I'm going to take you back 22 years, 1992.
ERNIE ELS:  '92 I was here, and I remember that week because I had a nice time in South Africa, you know, playing some good golf.  I think I won the South African Open and so on.  Was asked to play for South Africa to qualify for the Dunhill Cup at St. Andrews and myself, Ian Palmer John Glenn (ph) came over and played some golf here at Fanling.
Very different conditions.  It was really rainy.  So I guess it must have been roundabout March, February.  Had a great time and played with Frank Nobilo.  That's where myself and frank met, became really good friends since then.  Yeah, 22 years later, it's ridiculous it's been so long.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Did you ever imagine as a skinny 22 year old South African that you would have the career you would have?
ERNIE ELS:  No, I was hoping for good things to come, but sitting here now, you know, quite a few years later, well into my career (laughs) I've had some good things happen and been very blessed the way things have gone.
You know, you have big plans for life but sometimes things don't work out.  For me, luckily it worked out nicely.
Hong Kong Open - PreviewsMICHAEL GIBBONS:  And you played the golf course this morning.  Give us a quick word on the course, and I think you enjoyed the Pro Am with the former captain, was it?
ERNIE ELS:  Yeah, I actually played with the current captain, Mark Foster.  Played with the previous captain and previous president here, Sandy, all the way from Scotland.  He lives here.  He's been here since 1962, he said.
So I had a nice briefing about the course and where to hit it and not to hit it and they gave me some lines on the greens.  So had a nice little round with them.  Most enjoyable.
And I think the course is in great shape.  I've watched it on television a little bit because normally this event, I'm in South Africa, and I watched last year's finish.  I think last year's finish was very exciting with Miguel winning.  I've seen a bit of it on television.
But the rough is really high.  I don't know what that is going to do about the scoring, but the course is in great shape.
Q.  How is your form now, and is Miguel the main man in your sights?
ERNIE ELS:  Yeah, I think so.  I think Miguel, I think obviously his record speaks for itself, winning here four times.  He obviously loves the layout and knows the greens obviously.  So I'd love to play with him over the weekend.  I know he's going to be up there.
My own form has been    you know, I had quite a few weeks off before the Scottish tournament we played, the Dunhill Links.  Kind of found a bit of form over the weekend there.  But I'm actually quietly optimistic about my game and quite excited about my game, especially for when the real season starts.  But I'd love to get it going here this week and see what Miguel and the rest of the crew does out there.
Q.  Why did it take you 22 years to come back?
ERNIE ELS:  That is a good one (laughter) that is a good one.  All I can say is scheduling.  As I say, the Hong Kong Open, I've watched it many times on television, so it's got to be into December when you had it or end of November maybe.  That's normally the time we go down to South Africa and spend time with the family and people down on the beach.
So it's taken you 22 years to get it into the right time slot (chuckles).  It's good to be here.
Q.  Do you see yourself that there's more of a gravitational pull towards Asia in the golf world?
ERNIE ELS:  Was it two years ago, the Asian Tour made me kind of their worldwide golf ambassador.  You know, so that's a great honor to have.  I've been playing the Asian Tour, European Tour, South African Tour and I've been playing around the world most of my career, so that's been very special.
Yeah, so you'll keep on seeing my face coming out here and playing.  I can see obviously the Asian Tour growing, and golf is so popular out here, not only men's golf but really a lot in women's golf, as well.
People love to play the game of golf out here, and you know, thanks to The European Tour, saw the vision years and years ago to come out here and start getting tournaments together, co sanctioning with the Asian Tour.  I think it's been a very positive move.
You see the rewards now with Y.E. Yang winning a major, first Asian player to do that, and so many more Asian players doing great.  K.J. Choi is top of the list there, too, and many, many others will follow.
David Lipsky (Usa)
I really like this course. I’m excited for the week to start and I think it is one of the best courses we play on the Asian Tour. This is a place where I’m comfortable at and where I feel that I can do well.
You have to keep your ball on the fairway and keep it below the hole on the greens. The win came down pretty fast. I’m trying to get back to the process of getting better in my golf game.
When I won for the first time, it was hard to forget about it but now I’m getting used to it and trying to stick to my routine and take care of business. I took a break and I celebrated the win with my family and a few of my friends. I’m starting to practice hard again. I haven’t been back home and it was good to see my parents whom I’ve not seen in the last six months or so.WORLDWIDE SELANGOR MASTERS 2013
Anirban Lahiri (Ind)
I had a really good outing last year. I played really well and had my best finish in this event (tied 12th). I’m starting to like the golf course and understanding how to play it. I’m glad to be back here and looking forward to playing well.
I needed that two-week break very badly. It was starting to get to me. I haven’t been playing golf in the last 10 days and spent a lot of time with the family. I’m relaxed and hungry to do well.
I decided to fly to Hong Kong on Sunday. I played nine holes on Monday and another nine on Tuesday just to ease myself into the week and get back into tournament golf. It has really been relaxing.
The course is different because we usually play here in November or December so it used to be colder and firmer. However, the course is still playing great and the roughs are up. We usually don’t play with high roughs here but this week it will be lethal. It is going to be interesting. If you can keep it on the fairways, you will have more scoring opportunities as compared to previous years. It is a good week to be hitting it straight.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)
I’ve been playing good golf after coming back from a knee injury. I have good memories in Hong Kong. I’ve had some good results here so I’m looking forward to doing well again. This course suits my game. I have a big goal this week because I want to finish as high as I can on the Order of Merit and qualify for the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
It is going to be a tough week because the top-10 on the Order of Merit is very tight. It is going to be very interesting this week. I don’t have any pressure because of this. I’m playing well so I’m quite confident to finish high here. My knee is about 80% recovered and my muscle is getting stronger. I’m trying to lose some weight as well! Prom (Meesawat) and I spend a lot of time together but we don’t talk about the golf course
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because we have a lot of experience playing here.
I played with Miguel several times now and if you look at his age, he is still an amazing player. I want to try and stop him from trying to win his fifth Hong Kong Open title.
Rahil Gangjee (Ind)
It was on my mind (qualifying for the CIMB Classic) even when I was playing in Chinese Taipei. I was trying to catch Cameron Smith but he is still slightly ahead of me. The winners’ of the past one month has been overtaking me slowly and gradually. I went from fourth to 12th in about a month and a half so it is kind of a reality check. I have to step up in my game this week.
The positions of the top-10 or 15 guys change really quick because of the winners that come in. Beside that hopefully this week will be a better week. This is one of my favourite golf courses. We’ve been playing here for so many years. Somehow the course sets up well.