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Els not feeling pressure to win in Houston

Three time major winner Ernie Els is facing the prospect of missing the Masters for the first time since 1993. But he says he's still approaching the forthcoming Houston Open like any other, despite the imperative that he wins so as to qualify for the season's first major.

"You can't go into a week putting pressure on yourself to win to get into another week," Els said Wednesday.

"I just want to have a good week. If I can win, obviously, that would be absolutely wonderful. But my goal here is not to get into the Masters, it's to play the Shell Houston Open as good as I can.

"If I get into the Masters, that's great. If I don't, then I've had many Masters that I can look back at, and I'll get back in there next year."

"It'll be a very weird feeling," Els said. "Since I've been a professional at this level, I've played at the Masters, so it'll be a very weird feeling not to be there. I'll miss it."

The Masters could still offer a special invitation to Els, like tournament officials did for Greg Norman in 2002. Ryo Ishikawa, a nine-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour, has a special invitation this year.

Els isn't expecting a call between now and Sunday, when the Masters field will be set.

"It is an invitational event," he said, "and they have their reasons to invite somebody or not, and that's the sad part. I'll probably miss it for the first time in 18 or 19 years. My streak will come to an end, unfortunately.

"I can't blame the Masters people for not inviting me. I've put myself in this position by not playing very well."

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