Or Els?

Not so easy: Els' Open win at Oakmont required 72 holes of regulation and another 20 in a Monday playoff.
Sports Illustrated

You seem to be regaining your old form, but how is your game different than when you won your last major, the 2002 British Open?

Technically I'm a little better. I didn't hit the ball that great at that Open. I feel like I'm swinging better, hitting it better. It's just my short game. I've got to get it to where I'm hitting 27, 28 putts a round, and then I can score well.

What are you doing to find your putting touch? Are you tinkering much?

No, it's just basically working with Jos [Els' mental coach Jos Vanstiphout] again, just basically seeing it and doing it again.

You mean using visualization?

Right. I don't want to tinker around and try other things. I've got all the tools; I've just got to apply it.

What type of player does Oakmont suit?

Whew! You've got to have your touch, you've got to be accurate, you've got to have your imagination, and you better have a game plan. I just hope the USGA doesn't screw up the conditioning of the course.

It might be the hardest Open venue ever.

I think it will be, with the added length and the rough. It could be, yeah.

The 1994 U. S. Open at Oakmont, which you won, is synonymous with the moment a USGA official incorrectly gave you relief from a moveable TV camera crane on Sunday.

Oh, right. What was that guy's name again — Ty?

Trey Holland.

Yeah, him. I think he and myself were both basically a bit clueless. I thought it was immoveable and you could get a drop and he thought the same thing, but it was obviously moveable. If I'd have made the decision myself I'd have either gotten disqualified or got a two-shot penalty, but, you know, he gave me the drop. Or he moved it. No, no, no, he gave me the drop.

It would have been nice to have won without that incident, right?

I made bogey anyway. It was the first hole. I probably would have made bogey out of that lie because I'd have had to chop it out. If I'd have made birdie it would have been a big deal.

A few years ago there was the Big Four, or the Big Five. Now it's just a one-man game again with Tiger Woods. Do you miss the old days?

Yeah, yeah. It's almost far-fetched to say it can happen again, because Tiger is unbelievable, but somehow I've got to find a way to win these tournaments that I want to win, meaning the Masters and the PGA and some other tournaments. He's so far ahead — I might not reach him, but at least I can become better, and that's all I can do.

Seems like you play better when you're eye-to-eye with him.

I want to be in the position to play against him this year where I feel that I've actually got a chance. In 2000 I felt like I had a chance where I could play him and beat him, that my talent could compete against his talent. I want to get back to that feeling.

Since injuring your knee in a wake-boarding accident in 2005, have you sworn off extracurricular recreational activities?

I don't go skiing. I swim at home in Herolds Bay [South Africa] and just chill with the family, and that's about it. I'm 37, man. I'm not in my 20s anymore.

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