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Last Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005, 21:27 GMT 22:27 UK
Q&A: Els on the Match Play
2005 World Match Play
Live on BBC Sport
Defending champion Ernie Els will sit out this year's World Match Play as he recovers from knee surgery following an accident on holiday.

The Wentworth resident, who is out for the season, has won the event a record six times (1994-1996 and 2002-2004).

Here, we ask the South African about his rehab and what it takes to win the Match Play at Wentworth.


How is the rehabilitation coming on?

It's going well. It's hard work, but I knew it would be.

Sophie, my physio, has been fantastic and it looks like we're ahead of schedule.

After a couple of weeks post-op my range of movement in the knee was pretty much where you'd expect it to be at about six weeks.

That's spurred me on even more in the last 10 days or so.

I've also now got Josh Salzmann, my personal trainer at Wentworth, helping me with my upper body exercises. By the end of the year, I should be the fittest I've ever been.

What does it take to win the World Match Play?

Well, it's a long week, especially with the way the format is now.

Trust me, 36 holes a day for four days can really take it out of you. So you need to be in good physical shape. That's the first thing.

Strategy is also key - in matchplay it helps if you can be aggressive and make a lot of birdies.

That's something I've usually managed to do, which is why I've had some success here.

Playing par golf isn't enough, not against this type of field.

And you need a little bit of luck as well. A guy might shoot 15 under one day and five under the next. If you catch him on the good day, you might be out of there.

Who are your tips?

I think it's wide open this year. Honestly, I look at the field and see a whole bunch of players who could win. Angel Cabrera won the PGA here in May, and obviously the way he hits the ball he's got a great chance.

Retief Goosen is in good form, having won at the weekend.

And Thomas Bjorn is playing well so he also has a great chance - and this is his home golf course, basically. You can't rule out a few other guys as well; Michael Campbell has won the US Open so he'll be confident.

Luke Donald's got the kind of game that will do well round the West Course, I think.

So basically, I'm struggling to pick a winner. I won't be having a bet, put it that way!

What are some of the key holes/shots at Wentworth?

I think the golf course is a good balance and you need to play well right through the bag.

Driving and putting are probably the two big keys, though. The rough is usually pretty lush so you need to put your ball in the fairway to give yourself a decent shot at the flags.

And with it being matchplay, you obviously need to putt well and make a lot of birdies. Like I said, par golf is no good to you out there.

Where are you planning to watch it?

I'm under strict orders to stay off my feet for long periods of time, so I'll probably have to sit at home and watch it on television.



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