There was so much to post yesterday I didn't get around to Ernie Els' press conference, which sadly (for the Bay Hill folks) turned into a Masters chat session. Here he is talking about the changes to the course:
No. 4 is big. The one day it was downwind, I hit a 4 iron to the left flag. The second day, the wind was a little into us to a right flag and I hit 2 iron. Both times I made par, thank goodness. But going with a 2 iron into that hole is quite something. It's a bit of a change.And here he is responding to a question about the possibility of back nine charges:
7 was another big one. I hit driver and a 7 iron both days was a little into the breeze. Going into that green with a middle iron is also quite a big change. I wouldn't want to go in there with 4 or 5 iron like some of the guys might go in there with. It's quite big.
Again, 11, quite a big change with the tee further back. That fairway is really narrow now. It's almost like a U.S. Open hole now. And then 17 I thought also was a big change with the fee further back.
So all in all, you know, it's very tough. If we have tough weather conditions, it's going to be a very tough week. It will be it's becoming one of the toughest one of the majors now. Where it used to be kind of the most fun of all the majors, it's becoming the hardest one now.
Q. How about No. 1?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, No. 1, another one. No. 1 I feel the tee shot is almost easier for us. It's 297 yards to the front edge of the bunker, so you know, again, 80 percent of the field is not even going to reach the bunker. It's an easier tee shot, much more difficult second shot. I was going with 6 iron my second shot. On the first hole, you know, it's kind of a tough start to your round.
Q. Did you see that tongue in the bunker the way it's separated?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, if you go into the front of the bunker, you essentially can't get to the green, even if you go just to the right of it, I don't know if you'll have a stance to hit the ball out of there. Yeah, very different.
You know, I think the second part of your question, I mean, 13, I think most of the guys can still get it on there in two shots. But 15, there was a bit of a breeze into us and I really cranked a drive there. As I say, I had 230 in.And here's where the always eloquent Els started stumbling through his answer, perhaps because he might recall that three years ago he said that a "governor" should be put on the ball and even suggested that there should be some consideration of a return to wood heads.
So it's going to take a bit of the excitement away definitely. The time like with myself when Mickelson won, that kind of golf, I don't think that's going to happen that often anymore because the holes are getting so long. I mean, 10, you can still get 10 down there, hit an 8 iron into the green. 11 is so long now, you're going to probably hit 3 , 4 iron in there, so that's not really a birdieable hole. 12 obviously is. 13, you probably can get there. 14 is longer, you're not going in there with wedge anymore you're going in with 7 iron. 15 is debatable if you're there in two. 16 is what it is and 17 is longer; that's not a birdie hole, and 18 is not a birdie hole. So you're going to do well to break par the back nine.
Q. How do you feel, you're one of the prime examples of the modern power game, how do you feel away the traditionalists and courses are going about trying to rein in the power game and bring nuance, subtlety and accuracy back into it; do you think the way they are going about that is the right way and how do you feel about being one of the causes of it?
ERNIE ELS: Well, I think technology is a good thing. I think the world, we keep ticking on, don't we. We've got to get better in many ways and golf is just another sport that's going that way. Athletes I think are bigger maybe, and I wouldn't say more healthy, but they are a bit stronger. And with technology, you know, we're going to hit the ball longer. It's like any other sport. Cars get faster; guys in the NFL, get bigger, hit harder. That's just the way of life.
But we've got some great, great golf courses that are just not they just don't play the way they used to play. Bunkers are just way out of play. We play a great golf course down in Melbourne, an Alister MacKenzie course and on a good day there I shot 60 around there with no wind, I was bombing it to the greens, chipping it on and making putts, I was in perfect shape. That course played on that same weather conditions in the 50s or 60s, we would have done really well to maybe shoot 65 coming in with 7 irons, but I was just hitting sand irons into the green.
So we have to look at that, changing golf courses a little bit. That's what they have done at Augusta. I don't agree with all it. There's a good argument that you can have, with technology and the design of golf courses. I think the modern day golf courses that we design, I wouldn't design a course under 7,500 yards, off the back tees, not for you guys. I think it's definitely there's two different games being played today. There's the professional game where we hit it 300 and the amateur game where you guys hit it 200. I mean, I played at Augusta off the back tees it was 7,400 and a bit, and the member I was playing with was playing off 6,300 and a bit.
Can we still put you down for a competition ball Ernie? We'll assume you'll take a pass on the return of persimmon.