Friday, 19 March 2010
Ernie Els says he must ignore the Tiger Woods factor if he is to harbour realistic hopes of securing an unprecedented fourth Dubai Desert Classic trophy this week.

"He is so far ahead of me right now but I have got new goals and I want to stay focused on them," the 37 year old South African said on the eve of The European Tour event.

"If I can achieve them, I can be a real factor again. That's what you have to do. You can't go head to head against him (Woods), you have got to have your own little game plan and follow that."

Woods's confidence is sky high after a remarkable run of nine wins in 12 tournaments. The World Number One also defeated Els in a play-off here last year.

A rejuvenated Els said he was keen to kick-start his career, especially after recording a long overdue win at the South African Airways Open in December and finally banishing his long-term knee problems.

"In the late 1990s I stood up pretty well to Tiger. I briefly got to number one in the world and won Majors, albeit not as many as him," said Els.

"In the last year and a half I wasn't quite up to that standard but now I feel I'm back to myself. I have got clear goals again and if I can move forward toward my goals, I will become a factor again in the Tiger world, so to speak."

At the end of last year, Els said he had a three-year plan to challenge Woods at the top of the rankings.

More immediately, though, the three-times Major Champion is hoping to add another Dubai crown to the titles he won in 2005, 2002 and 1994.

"Some places, some courses just fit your eye. I have always felt comfortable around here," said World Number Four Els.

"It's a time of the season where I feel like I want to play. I am fresh and, you know, you feel like you want to have a good start to the year."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1STENSON, HenrikSWE18-19
2ELS, ErnieRSA18-18
T3WOODS, TigerUSA18-17
T3FASTH, NiclasSWE18-17
5FISHER, RossENG18-16
6HANSON, PeterSWE18-14
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