Els & Garcia delight at Woods' absence

Published 16/07/2008 12:26:54

Two men who won't miss Tiger Woods this year are Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia. Both players have good form in recent opens - Els winning in 2002 and finishing third and fourth in the last two years; Garcia losing last year's championship in an extraordinary playoff to Padraig Harrington.


"With all due respect, The Open is bigger than any of us, even Tiger Woods," the 28 year old Spaniard said.


"And if I happen to never play golf again or Tiger happens to never play golf again The Open will still be played and that's the most important thing.


"Nobody is bigger than the tournament itself. If I manage to win this week I'm not going to go ‘Oh, I won the British Open, but Tiger wasn't there'.


"I still have the Claret Jug.


"Obviously, when you don't have the number one player in the world it gives you a little bit more of a chance, but it doesn't mean that it's yours to win.


"Hopefully I will perform the way I know how and that will be enough."


Garcia has 13 top 10 finishes in majors and is hotly tipped to break his duck at Birkdale this year. Asked the question of being favourite he replied: "It doesn’t feel any different. At the end of the day I know I’ve got to be favourite myself, in me.


"It doesn’t matter what anybody else says. I have to go out there and do what I know how to do, believe in my ability to do it and then give myself a chance at winning.


"Obviously it’s nice to be that, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to help me, like my chances are going to be better because of that.


"I still have to go out there and perform.". said Garcia, who is aiming to make it a hat trick of Spanish sporting victories this summer, with the national team winning Euro 2008 and tennis star Rafael Nadal victorious at Wimbledon.


Els, the 2002 champion and runner up in 2004, has one victory to his name this season - the Honda classic and admitted "I’m not overly disappointed that he (Woods) is not here,"


"For the tournament it’s a big blow and we’re definitely going to miss him.


"It feels very different, to be honest. It’s the first major I think he’s missed since he started playing as a pro 12 years ago.


"It’s an interesting championship. For once I think everybody can be very excited.


"Choke is a very strong word, but the thought of him around is quite ominous, especially coming down the stretch or even preparing yourself for a last round when he’s in the mix.


"You know this guy is going to be in contention. There’s definitely a thought of him in your mind all the time.


"I think players like Sergio, like myself feel very comfortable in this event, more than any other.


"I feel I’m on a much better level with Tiger than say at the US Masters or the PGA and so on and so forth.


"And this is in Europe. Let’s face it, Sergio is very much a factor over here."





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