-- Ernie Els ripped into the U.S. Golf Association Tuesday for its "out of control" set-up of Shinnecock Hills in the final round of the U.S. Open three weeks ago, and said that any suggestion that he had given up after making double bogey on his first hole June 20 was "the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life."

Tom Meeks, senior director of rules and competitions for the USGA, told the Boston Globe two weeks ago that "I really think Ernie Els gave up after the first hole. He double-bogeyed it. It's like he gave up, and that's not like him."

Els started the last 18 holes two shots behind the 54-hole lead held by his friend and fellow South African Retief Goosen, who birdied the first hole Sunday and took a five-shot advantage over Els with that three-shot swing. Goosen went on to win his second Open title; Els posted 80, tied for ninth.

"How do you give up?" Els said. "I've never given up on any round of golf in my life. If I did give up, I would have shot 100. I mean that's ridiculous. . . . They've lost the plot to the story. To take one of the best golf courses in this entire world and to make it a farce like that, I mean they've got egg on their face is all I can say. I'd like to meet the guy that said that.

"I could see on Saturday afternoon that the golf course was going. We had that wind blowing that evening, and then the next morning it was just gone. I made that six and Retief made birdie. Already, your whole mind-set, everything changes after one hole. So I had a difficult start, but I hit the ball as good as I ever did. I felt good about that tournament."