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Friday, 19 March 2010
Barclays Scottish Open - Previews  (Getty Images)
Barclays Scottish Open - Previews (Getty Images)

Ernie Els has had enough of "floating around" and wants to become a big player on the big stage again at The Barclays Scottish Open this week.

Els goes into the event at Loch Lomond without a win in his last 36 events and having missed the halfway cut at both the Masters Tournament and US Open Championship.

But the South African is determined to put that right this week.

“I really want to put my mind to playing good golf here this week and really enjoy the course and enjoy myself and try and get some form going and hit some shots that I see in my mind and get some putts rolling in,” he said.

“And if I have a chance Sunday, I would love that.  I haven't had that chance for quite some time now. But I'm feeling good about the week and feeling good about being here, so it would be wonderful to have a good week, absolutely.

"I feel like I've been kind of searching, floating around a little bit - so let's get a little bit more drive and go. I definitely still have a burning desire to do well and win golf tournaments."

Els captured the last of his three majors at Muirfield seven years ago but since then has finished second, third, fourth and seventh in The Open Championship - and he is hoping that Turnberry next week will see him back in the winner's circle.

"Right now I'm still very, very dedicated to my sport. I still love it - it's been in my blood. It's what I've always done” he added.

"I know I've got other interests, but I basically started all of those to have something to fall back on after golf. Everything is still driven by playing the game and by trying to perform. That's still the number one goal. I still watch golf even on television - it's a mad drug.

Els will be reminded of past glories in the first two rounds this week. He is paired with Colin Montgomerie, whom he twice pushed into second place at the US Open Championship.

Montgomerie was 46 earlier this month and has not had a top ten finish for over a year. He is also down at 200th in the world, making Els' slide seem minuscule, but the Scot still believes he can hit the heights again as well.

Even though he finished poorly at the Open de France on Sunday - four closing pars would have given him a share of fourth - the eight-time European Number One was encouraged by the seven birdies earlier in the round.

"I still feel capable of winning," he stated.

"There have been people won on this Tour older than me, and I still think there are a few wins in there. I've just got to keep going and believe in that. If I don't believe it I will never win again.

"I made 19 birdies and an eagle last week, which is more than either of the players that got into the play-off. But I made 16 mistakes - and six is too many, never mind 16."

“I know the course here as well as anyone, better than anybody, and I just look forward to this week. Always do.”

The two who were in the play-off, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood, have moved on to Scotland as well - and so has third-placed Ian Poulter.

The star-studded field also includes 20 year old Rory McIlroy, Masters Tournament champion Angel Cabrera and a group of players over early from the US PGA Tour like Colombian Camilo Villegas, Australians Adam Scott, Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilvy - at sixth in the world the top-ranked player in the field - South Africans Rory Sabbatini and Tim Clark, Americans Boo Weekley, Nick Watney and Brian Gay.

And Ryder Cup star Weekley revealed he always feels at home competing on The European Tour.

“I'm enjoying coming over here,” he said. “First year we got to come, 2007, it was just a totally different change. I wanted to see what it was like over here and see what it was like on The European Tour.

“After we got through playing, me and my caddie was talking and I told him, you know, if it don't pan out over in the States, I think we could find a good place to play over here and enjoy it, because it's more relaxed over here.”

The man they all have to beat is Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, who finished two shots ahead of South Africa’s James Kingston last year.

“Lots of great memories from last year, definitely one of the highlights of my career,” he said.

“Probably the best event I've won against the best field. Solidified my place on The Ryder Cup Team, which was huge. Mum and Dad in the crowd, first time they had watched me win as a pro.

“There was just a lot of different elements to it that just made it a huge win. So certainly got me on a run last year and got me on The Ryder Cup Team and it was definitely a great moment.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KAYMER, MartinGER18-15
T2JACQUELIN, RaphaëlFRA18-13
T2FDEZ-CASTAÑO, GonzaloESP18-13
T4SCOTT, AdamAUS18-12
T4KJELDSEN, SørenDEN18-12
T6WATNEY, NickUSA18-11
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