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Everybody in the field
can win, says Els

Long shot: Ernie Els of South Africa watches his shot during the first round of play at the Honda Classic PGA golf tournament in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida in this Feb. 28, 2013 file photo. (Reuters/Brian Blanco)
Long shot: Ernie Els of South Africa watches his shot during the first round of play at the Honda Classic PGA golf tournament in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida in this Feb. 28, 2013 file photo. (Reuters/Brian Blanco)

With his current rank of 24th in the world and 60 professional golf tournament wins from around the world, Ernie Els is a favorite to win the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters 2013, which begins on Thursday.

However, the South African World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, speaking at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club, East Jakarta, down played his favorite status and said his ranking would not mean much in the tournament.

“[Having] a rank means you have played well somewhere but it doesn’t mean that I’ll automatically win. It doesn’t work like that. Everybody in the field can win this week,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday.

He will be up against other top golfers including Thongchai Jaidee and Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand; Bernd Wiesberger of Austria; Simon Dyson of England; Michael Campbell of New Zealand; and Darren Clarke of Ireland for the total US$750,000 prize money.

The first round on Thursday will see Els tee off with Wiesberger and Hend at 7:05 a.m.

“I’ve been working all year on my game but so far it has been slow going. Things are coming around a little bit,” he said.

Els finished tied for 14th place at the inaugural Chiang Mai Golf Classic in March and finished 15th at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in Avondale, Louisiana in April.

Els said he would still use the long putter this week.

“I went to Augusta with a long putter and I played quite well. While it is good, I’ll go with it and if they change the rules then I’ll go back to the short putter,” he said.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews golf governing body (R&A) and the United States Golf Association announced their intention to outlaw the practice of putting with a club anchored to a player’s stomach. The new rule is due to come into effect in 2016.

“They haven’t changed the rule yet. Before Chiang Mai, I was practicing with a short putter but since then, I was so concentrated on getting ready for the Masters that I put all my energy in using the long putter. I don’t see any reason why I should change putters,” he said.

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