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February 18 2013

4:35 PM

Els blog: Fast start key in matches

Chris Condon/PGA TOUR

Editor's note: Ernie Els is writing a weekly blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2013 and this is his most recent installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.

It’s hard to think of a better place than Riviera to start your PGA TOUR campaign. We’re so well-looked after here and to my mind it’s one of the premier events on the schedule. The golf course deserves that. It’s a classic test, with everything right there in front of you, and the bunkering is spectacular. You feel like you should shoot a low number, but this course can grab you, especially if you miss greens in the wrong spots. It’s such a great design.

Anyway, I’d already played three events this year on the European Tour and to be honest I was pretty rusty out there. I was definitely hoping for better things at Riviera and my target at the start was to shoot four rounds in the 60s. I didn’t quite manage that, but 5-under par wasn’t a million miles away and a pair of 68s on Friday and Sunday showed me that my game is in better shape than it was in the Middle East. I feel encouraged by that, but probably need to step it up to have a decent run at this week’s World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship..

My record here is a little patchy, shall we say. Every year I get asked for an explanation and that’s usually the moment when people also bring up the World Matchplay at Wentworth, which I won seven times. What can I say? You just can’t compare the two. The Accenture is a different type of event, not least because the matches are just 18 holes. Over one round, anyone is capable of beating anyone else. We’ve seen it time and again here.

Looking back, what’s maybe hurt me most over the years is a slow start and in an 18-hole match that can kill you, so you have to try to be aggressive from the get-go. Basically, try to be the player applying the pressure, not the one receiving it. My first match is against Freddie Jacobson who had a pretty good week at Riviera, so he’s obviously playing well. I need to be on my game.

We start on Wednesday, so I’m already here in our rental home at nearby Stone Canyon, where we’ve stayed every year since they moved this tournament from La Costa. It’s a great place. The members, the staff, everyone is just so welcoming and friendly. A few years back they kindly gave me honorary membership. It makes coming back to this tournament every year that extra bit special…and hopefully this year we get to stay through to the weekend!

Whatever the outcome, I’ll be sure to write again between finishing here and teeing it up in my next tournament, The Honda Classic. That’s virtually a ‘home game’ for me these days.

Until then, bye for now.

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