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Ernie Els sets sights on World's top spot

World number three Ernie Els, boosted by his first victory of the season at the Dubai Desert Classic, has set his sights this year on regaining the top ranking he last held in 1998.

The 35-year-old South African, who sank an 18-foot eagle putt at the final hole to edge out Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez at the Emirates Golf Club on Sunday, believes he can overhaul Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh in the global pecking order.

"I know it won't be that easy to achieve the number one ranking as Woods and Singh, too, are in terrific form," Els told reporters at Doha International Airport on Tuesday.

"Both are playing great golf right now. But I would say I am not far behind. I am within striking distance."

Woods regained his status as the game's leading player by winning his second PGA Tour title of the year at the Doral Open in Florida on Sunday. However Woods, second-ranked Singh and Els are separated by just 1.05 world ranking points.

"I should win more tournaments this year and then it (becoming world number one) is within my reach," added Els, who who enjoyed nine weeks in three spells as world number one in 1997 and 1998.

"I think I am in the right kind of form to go all the way and win a major this year. I am fairly confident about this."

Twice U.S. Open champion Els contended in all four majors last year without winning any of them.

This week, however, the easy-swinging South African will be focused on the European Tour as he plays for the first time in the Qatar Masters.

"I haven't played at the Doha Golf Club before but I have heard from my colleagues that it is a challenging course," he said.

"This week is going to be very important. I had a fantastic time in Dubai last week and it was a big win for me.

"Miguel was in brilliant form, but I managed to come up with that little bit extra. I'm confident I can reproduce the same form in Doha."

The $1.5 million Qatar Masters, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, starts on Thursday.

Other big names in the field include Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, Irish Ryder Cup player Paul McGinley and Britain's Ian Woosnam, who was appointed last week Europe's Ryder Cup captain for 2006.


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