Friday, 19 March 2010
Ernie Els  (Getty Images)
Ernie Els (Getty Images)

Ernie Els says he has no plans to cut back on his travelling as he prepares for the Ballantine's Championship at Pinx Golf Club on Jeju Island, South Korea.

The island in the Korean strait is notoriously difficult to get to but 39 year old Els - a winner 24 times on The European Tour - insists racking up the air miles is not a problem.

“I've done it my whole career, you know, travelling,” he said. “I come from South Africa, which is a long way away in any case, so anywhere I go, I would be travelling.

“But you know, my roots are in Europe and on The European Tour. The European Tour has expanded now, as we all know and see. So, I like playing on The European Tour, and I'll keep on doing so like I have been. A bit of jet lag here and there - you deal with that.

“I think to spread golf around the world, and especially in emerging markets like in Asia, and Asia is a very big place; that means China, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, all over the place. It's a very big place, Asia, and this is the emerging market. So you need to be there when the game is starting to grow, so that's what we are doing.”

2008 was the first time in seven years that the South African failed to capture a title on The European Tour, but three time Major winner Els believes his game is in good shape to record a first win on Tour since the 2007 HSBC World Match Play Championship.

“I'm really working hard on my putting,” he added. “It's not showing at the moment, but it will start showing.”

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell goes into the week as defending champion after seeing off Jeev Milkha Singh in a play-off last year.

But The Ryder Cup star is expecting a far tougher examination of his game this time around.

“I sort of remember the golf course being a little easier than the one I've been practising on the last couple of days,” said McDowell.

“Obviously a bit more rough here on the golf course this year. The wind is blowing a little stronger. I certainly expect 24 under to win by lots of shots this year, so I think scoring is going to be more difficult.

“Obviously it’s great to come back, great memories. It’s always nice to come back to a venue where you've won, you remember a lot of the great shots you've hit.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1JAIDEE, ThongchaiTHA18-4
T1KANG, Sung-hoonKOR18-4
T4ELS, ErnieRSA18-2
T4DERKSEN, Robert-JanNED18-2
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