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Ernie Els to cut back on global travel

Globe-trotting Ernie Els, who covers more miles in his private jet than any of his main rivals, admits he needs to cut back on his playing schedule.

The world number three, who won his first title of the year at the Hawaiian Open on Sunday, is taking this week off and is considering missing next month's WGC-Accenture Match Play -- the first big event of 2004.

"I'm not playing a tournament this week, so I'll have a few days off and then I'll think about making my way down to Thailand for the (European Tour's) Johnnie Walker Classic (next week)," the big South African said on his official website.

"There will be times when inevitably you get a little tired, for whatever reason, but you want to minimise that happening.

"That means working hard on my fitness and organising my playing schedule so I'm fresh, mentally and physically," added the Els, one of few players to feature regularly on both the PGA and European Tours.

"That's part of the reason behind my decision to play a little bit more in the States this year, and not quite so many tournaments in Europe.

"It's a shame to have to split my commitments, because I love playing on both sides of the Atlantic. But the golf season is a long one and I have to be careful not to do too much travelling. That was a borderline issue in 2003."

The three-times major winner, who clinched seven titles worldwide last year, was delighted with his playoff victory at the weekend but is in two minds about returning to the U.S. for the February 25-29 WGC event.

"I don't know," he told reporters at Waialae Country Club. "I'm playing Bangkok and then I play at the Heineken (Classic in Australia). I'm going home from there. We'll see.

"I might be tired of travelling when I get to South Africa, or I might not be. We'll just wait and see. It's not a life-or-death situation for myself or the tour."

Els, who retained his Hawaiian Open crown by edging out American Harrison Frazar at the third extra hole, added that he would probably play more golf in the U.S. early next year.

"When I play (on the PGA Tour), I've got to play well because I don't play as many tournaments as these other guys," he said. "I've got a little more pressure on me when I do play -- that I've got to perform.

"Next year, I'll change that (early season) schedule. I'll play a lot more on the West Coast and maybe I won't have as much pressure on myself.

"But I need to get off to a start because, by the time I rejoin the tour, the guys have made $2 million, $3 million already. So I need to play well when I'm playing."

For this season, though, Els remains firmly focused on the four majors.

"I want to give it a go and see if I can contend in majors and do what I want to do, follow my dream and hopefully achieve it one day," he added. "I'm pretty close to doing really good things. I'm feeling good."

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