Els takes on 'unknowns'

The world No 3 Ernie Els may feel like a hunted man this week when he takes on a largely unknown field in the Dunhill Championship at the Leopard Creek Country Club at Malelane in South Africa.

The world No 3 Ernie Els may feel like a hunted man this week when he takes on a largely unknown field in the Dunhill Championship at the Leopard Creek Country Club at Malelane in South Africa.

After organisers moved the event forward from January to December to accommodate his schedule, Els will be the main attraction in a tournament which features only six more players in the world's top 200. The event seems tailor-made for Els, who has won tournaments there before and had a house built on the prestigious estate.

"I love coming here when I get the chance," Els said. "I've played the course quite a few times, and I've seen the changes that they have made through the years. I know the course very well and the par threes here are some of the toughest that you will see on the tour. They can bite you.

"You can't really look at the rest of the field. You have to play the golf course and play your score and try and put something decent on the scoreboard and hope that it is good enough.

"I don't think the guys will stand back because I am in the field. I think they will come out and try and win. If they want to beat me, that's fine, but they will have to play well. I can't think about them too much. I've got to go out and do my own thing."

The weather will also play a major factor with temperatures set to peak in the mid-30s. If we can have the weather like this, it will be great. It is definitely a factor," Els said.

"Last week at Sun City, it was 35 degrees at times and it's a long walk. The heat will be a factor. If it comes out baking the guys will feel it.

"I know what Europe is like and it is the total opposite from here at the moment. Guys will definitely have to take their fluids and look after themselves."

The defending champion, Marcel Siem, who won the title last year in a play-off, acknowledged Els' warning, adding: "I feel really, really good. Physically you've got to get used to the conditions and conquer it. I am feeling really confident and I'm looking forward to playing with Ernie."

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