Ernie gears up for Canadian Open

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Ernie_Claret2 REUTERS Ernie Els of South Africa holds the Claret Jug after winning the British Open.

Toronto – Ernie Els says he's feeling good about his chances at this week's Canadian Open despite having little time to prepare following his British Open victory on Sunday.

Els, who brought the Claret Jug along with him to Canada, hasn't had much time to himself since winning at Royal Lytham. He has played just five practice holes on the Hamilton Golf and Country Club course so far.

“I feel very fresh,” he said Wednesday. “I've been trying to be just low key about it.”

The 42-year-old South African said even though his pre-tournament routine will not be what it usually is, he has done his homework and seen enough of the course to be ready.

“I haven't prepared on the golf course the way maybe that I wanted to,” Els said. “So I went through the yardage. I saw a couple holes yesterday. I'll be fresh and ready to go tomorrow, so I'll be competing at 100 percent tomorrow.

“I don't know if it's such a big disadvantage because a lot of times when you don't play a course, you don't know where the trouble is.

“So maybe that's a good thing. You get your yardage, you hit it to your spots.”

Els said he had gained added confidence from his one-shot victory over Australian Adam Scott on Sunday, and was relieved to win another major because he went through a tough stretch where he just could not achieve top results.

“My last 10 years weren't that easy,” he said.

Before heading to Canada, Els said he had spent some time at his home in England celebrating his British Open win with friends and family.

He flew to the Toronto area on Tuesday and will tee off in Thursday's opening round in a group with Vijay Singh and Matt Kuchar.

Coming the week after the British Open, the tournament managed to attract just six of the top 30 players in the world.

Besides Els, the biggest names in the field are Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk, as well as local favourite Mike Weir.

Weir, who has competed in more than 20 Canadian Opens, is teeing off alongside Mahan and defending champion Sean O'Hair.

“The Canadian Open is the first professional tournament that I saw live, in person,” said Weir. “I think it was probably about 1985, maybe even earlier than that – '83.

“I look forward to this event every year. It's an event I don't want to miss, and even though last year I probably shouldn't have been playing, I didn't want to miss it and didn't want to miss it again this year.” – Sapa-AFP

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