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Ernie Els has plan to catch Tiger Woods

Ernie Els has laid out a three-year battle plan to challenge Tiger Woods as world number one.

Buoyed by his triumph at the South African Open on Sunday, a victory that allowed Els to maintain his record of winning at least once a year since 1991, he said his sights were now firmly set on his American rival.

"I see 2007 as the start of a three-year plan where I totally re-dedicate myself to the game," the South African told his official Web site (www.ernieels.com). "I want to win more majors and start giving Tiger a run for his money.

"If you look at where he is at the top of the rankings, it's a big lead so no one is going to get near him any time soon. I've got to give myself a three-year stretch to try to approach him and I really believe I can do it."

Woods has 20.41 ranking points and a huge advantage over countryman Jim Furyk (8.88) in second place. Els is fifth on 6.05.

Three-times major champion Els said he was in better physical shape than he had been for a long time.

"I'm fitter than I have been since I came out of the army," said the 37-year-old.

"My knee is strong and the important thing is I trust it, I really trust it. That means I can swing the club the way I want to, without feeling I have to protect it in any way.

"I can really start moving forwards now and concentrating on my goals."

Els's game was hampered for a long time after he injured his knee on a family sailing holiday in the Mediterranean last year.

"I'm a very happy man," he said. "Since I returned to competitive golf just over 12 months ago, after injuring my knee following the 2005 British Open in July, I've basically been playing patch-up golf.

"As hard as I tried, it just wasn't happening for me. It was frustrating.

"The South African Open was my last chance to set the record straight. Now I've done that the relief is immense."

December 19, 2006


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