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Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Ernie Els   (Getty Images)
Ernie Els (Getty Images)
South African Ernie Els is aiming to sharpen his game at Castle Stuart Golf Links ahead of next week’s Open Championship, but warned his rivals not to discount him from the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

“I haven't played since the US Open,” said the three-time Major winner. “I've been down in London for the last couple of weeks, and the weather hasn't been too great down there either. 

“So I need to just put a score on a card basically. That's why I came up here and tried and get some rust off the game. Hopefully things will go okay and I can have a good tournament, but it's really to come in and enjoy Castle Stuart - I really liked it last year. 

“Obviously playing tournament golf is a different level of sharpness; you’ve got to be at, and hopefully I can be there. I'm going to play the pro am this afternoon and I've been practicing, so I’m looking forward to a good week.

“I'm not necessarily writing myself off this week. It could be all there Thursday, but preparation for the US Open I was really sharp going into that event, and I've had my mid year break because we've got a hell of a schedule coming up. I've got I think eight of the next nine weeks of golf.”

The 42 year old hopes to be a contender at Lytham as well, on the course where he was joint second behind Tom Lehman in 1996 and joint third behind David Duval in 2001.

He won at Muirfield 12 months later, but a decade has now gone by without him adding to his three Majors.

Anyone not following his career in that time might have thought he had fallen on hard times given that he arrived in Inverness on Easyjet - the "Big Easy" on Easyjet indeed.

"The boys are all in shock about that," he said. The explanation, however, was that his private jet is now back in the States.

Els threatened to end his barren spell at the US Open last month. A disappointing finish dropped him to ninth, but his play for most of the week reminded him of his prime years.

"There were times I doubted I could get back there, but I really felt like my old self and that's the positive I took out of it."

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