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Wednesday, 13 June 2007
Reuters - Ernie Els laughs when he looks at video footage of his first US Open victory at Oakmont Country Club 13 years ago.

His putting, though, is a more serious matter and he would dearly love to replicate his 1994 form on the greens during this week's championship at the same venue.

"I made a lot of putts back then and that's why I won in '94," South African Els said as he prepared for Thursday's opening round.

"I made a ton of putts from inside ten, 12 feet in one of the best putting weeks of my life. If I can make some putts at the start of this week, who knows?

"These are the toughest greens we'll ever play in US Open history, or in any other golf tournament we play for that matter."

Els, a raw 24 year old when he beat Scotland's Colin Montgomerie and American Loren Roberts in a play-off for the 1994 title, believes he has become a much better player in every other department of the game.

"I've won over 60 events and won another two Majors since then," he said. "I feel more experienced and I guess I am a better player. But I'd like to make more putts."

The World Number Five, who claimed his second US Open crown at Congressional in 1997, has been amused watching television replays of his 1994 Oakmont success.

"I had a different hat in those days and a different hair style," he said with a smile.

"When I first came here, I didn't give myself too much of a chance so I just kind of enjoyed the experience.

"But I had a bit of game when I came in here, a bit of confidence, and I went with that. Before I could notice, I was leading the Open going into Sunday." 

Els now believes he is close to his best.

"I've been hitting it pretty well the last couple of weeks and made a lot of birdies, but I've also made some incredible ugly numbers, too," he said.

"When it's good, it's really good. I've got a lot of support here and I'll just try and feed off that. We've got a tough course and I've just got to try and hang in there."

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