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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 October, 2003, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Els wants number one spot
By Rob Hodgetts and Alistair Watkins
BBC Sport at Wentworth

Ernie Els and Tiger Woods in action earlier this year
Ernie Els believes he is on the cusp of a new level in golf after winning a record-equalling fifth World Match Play title at Wentworth.

The world number two beat close friend Thomas Bjorn 4&3 in the final to join Seve Ballesteros and Gary Player as the only men to have won the event five times.

The 34-year-old Els admitted he "loved" the traditional autumn tournament and was keen to return next year to take the record outright.

But he insisted that he had his eye on a bigger prize in the long run - becoming world number one.

The South African clinched the European Order of Merit for a first time this season, and won seven tournaments worldwide.

He's better than Tiger Woods
Seve Ballesteros on Ernie Els
But he was adamant that he could improve further, and stressed that he had discovered the belief to usurp Tiger Woods as the best player in the world.

The American was unstoppable in 1999 - winning 11 times worldwide - and again in 2000 when he won three of the year¿s four majors before adding a fourth straight major title at the 2001 Masters.

And Els admitted he suffered as a result of Woods' dominance.

"In 2000 I thought I played really well and finished second to Tiger six times. He was unbelievable," said Els.

"I was trying not to think about it but subconsciously it was on my mind at the start of 2001.

"But I've found a cure for a few things and am a lot more comfortable with my game now. I'm ready to take it to a new level.

"I can raise the technical side - I can become a better driver. And I'm happy to make changes while I'm out there. But mentally I'm getting tougher."

But Els was quick to point out he was not the only one with a legitimate chance of toppling Woods.

"There's quite a few players who can stamp their authority [on golf]. Vijay [Singh] is one player, myself obviously, and of the European guys Padraig [Harrington] has a chance," said Els.

"But I can't worry about anyone else.

"Last year I won six times, this year I've won seven times so I'm looking forward to the future."




WATCH AND LISTEN
South Africa's Ernie Els
"It was a fun match"


Denmark's Thomas Bjorn
"I know I wasn't playing my best"




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