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Ernie Els ready for Muirfield

South Africa's Ernie Els is a favourite at this year’s Open Championship at Muirfield.

Ernie Els kisses the Claret Jug, 'The Golf Champion Trophy' after winning the 2012 British Open Golf Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes in Lytham, north-west England. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The build-up to the Open Championship at Muirfield continues with South Africa's Ernie Els as one of the favourites to defend his title.

The two-time champion won his first Claret Jug at the same course back in 2002.

He is one of 10 South Africans on the field.

Els said the course holds very special memories for him.

"I've been looking forward to this event for quite some time now. I'm really happy to be here and have already played a few practice rounds. I'm very excited to be back. 2002 was a win but actually started in 1992 when I finished in fifth place here, so there a lot of great memories."

Els' form has been good in recent weeks but he failed to make the cut at last week's Scottish Open.

"I had two really great weeks in London but I did get some work done. I played a round there and saw how fast the ball was running. Unfortunately I didn't do so well there but hopefully I'll do better here."

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