It's been a great start to the season. The win was very special, to defend my championship (SAIL-SBI Open) from last year. It wasn't what I had expected but it was very nice. I didn't play well last week in Malaysia, so I was a little disappointed.
However, this week, it has been good so far. It was great to play with Ernie Els today. I was talking to Shiv Kapur on the range and he was saying what a nice guy he is. He was right. Ernie is one of the nicest guys I've played with. He is very relaxed and very encouraging. He's a legend and we all grew up watching him win tournaments, looking at his easy swing. It was nice.
If this was two years back, I would have been awe-struck. But not anymore. I've matured as a professional myself to know what I need to do on the golf course. Also, I've played with a few big names already. Ernie is a legend and it was very nice.
He played really good today. He was solid. Every time he missed a shot, he got up and down. Great short game. I wasn't on top of my game. I'm happy that I finished at four under, made three birdies in the last four holes, kind of saved my round. Apart from that, I didn't get any momentum going. Quite satisfied with how I played.
The course is there for the taking. If someone is playing well, you can really shoot eight or nine under. If you are wedging it well, you can really go low. It was how I felt when I played Royale Jakarta a few years ago. It's a similar course.
I asked Ernie questions like how many events he plays in a season, how does he travel in terms of the number of events he plays at a stretch, etc, just to get an idea of what he does. He has played at the highest level for nearly the two decades now and his experience is something which I hope I can achieve one day.
You try to learn as much as you can from him. Every now and then when I was waiting to hit my putt, I looked up and say, "Hey, that's Ernie Els". I enjoyed it. He played great and I played pretty good as well which I'm happy about.