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Ernie Els to travel less in 2004

The Big Easy is going to take it a little easier on his traveling this year.

Ernie Els, the most global golfer among active players, still plans to travel the world and play full schedules on the PGA and European tours, but he says he'll take a few more breaks.

A year ago, Els played twice in Hawaii, went straight to Singapore, then to Australia for two more tournaments in three weeks. He won four of those five tournaments, took a week off, then played the Match Play Championship and lost in the opening round.

``It took its toll there,'' Els said Tuesday. ``When I got to Bay Hill, I was already kind of done. It was a tough schedule. I played pretty solid all year. After the PGA, I didn't play quite up to my standard. I think the traveling has got something to do with it.''

Els doesn't measure his travels in miles, but hours on his private plane. He flew 350 hours last year.

The first part of the year won't look much differently, although Els will not play the Singapore Masters. The change will come throughout the year.

``Last year, I was still running across, playing on both tours in the middle of the year,'' Els said. ``It will be a little bit quieter -- still a full schedule, still a world schedule.''

Meanwhile, he says he will not be playing more on the PGA Tour this year.

Els played only 17 times, and said on a few occasions he planned to play more often in the United States to give himself a better chance at winning the money title. But his daughter, Samantha, starts school in London in September.

``Next year, it definitely will change,'' he said.

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