U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA DAY
April 15, 2002
Q. It has been a heck of a year since your win at the 2001 U.S. Open. Can you give us a glimpse of what it has been like and how has life changed for you?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It's been a great experience. Obviously I think all the past champions know exactly what a great feeling it is to be the United States Open Champion. The last year's been excellent. It has been great fun. It is great when you stand on the 1st tee and be introduced as the U.S. Open Champion. It hasn't changed my life. It has been, like I say, a great experience. It is difficult to explain it.
Q. Retief, your parents named you "Retief" as I understand it, after a former South African golf champion. Did they have a vision that you were going to be something special?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, maybe my dad had, (laughs), but my dad was quite a keen golfer himself. I don't know where he came unto the name, but maybe he's made a good choice.
Q. Absolutely he did. You are kind of referred to as the "New kid on the block," but really have been a professional for eleven years, but before I get to that, 1990 at the age of 20, you won the South African Amateur Championship. Did that provide the catalyst to convince you that golf pro is what you wanted to be?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, definitely. After I won that South Africa Championship I knew I have done everything in South African golf I could do, amateur golf, anyway. That was my very next choice. I did my two-year military service and then straight after that turned professional. It has been a slow climb since then and it has been getting better every year, and who knows what is lying ahead for me.
Q. After a good first round out at Southern Hills, I spoke to a couple of your contemporaries from the European Tour. I said: Is Retief good enough to win this U.S. Open. They said: Retief is so good, but he doesn't know it yet. But once he wins, he's going to keep on winning, and you certainly have demonstrated that by not only winning there, your record around the world the past twelve months is unbelievable.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, I think it is like any sport, until you really win that big thing, you then only realize that you can do it. It took me a while obviously. I have been around for some time on the European Tour, but every time I came out here I just didn't believe myself that I could win here as well. It was nice to really win a big one obviously, and it really boost my confidence and it has been going well since then.
Q. Not only won a big one, you did it in a rather bizarre fashion. Talk a little bit about the rollercoaster ride from 3-putting the 72nd hole to going out on Monday and getting the job done?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, that was an unfortunate situation. You play so well for 71 holes, 71 and a half holes and then something like that happens. It was one of those putts that I just wanted to roll up close and ended up whacking it around all over the green. But I told myself it is only a game. Walking up to back to the locker room, everybody had these red eyes; were quite upset with it and I wasn't. I felt it's not the end of the world. Tomorrow is another day. I know I can play well, so, I got a good chance of winning tomorrow. I knew I only had one guy to beat and this sort of one-on-one medal match play played quite a few times in Dunhill Cup, so I knew I had a good chance of beating him because I picked up quite a bit of experience that way.
Q. Retief, you have, in Tracy, a very supportive wife. Is that helping you play better lately?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, definitely. She's been helping me so much over the last ten years. She's been a great support and she's helped me to mature as well, in the game as well, so she's had a lot to do with my performance of late.
Q. The Masters this year - tied for the lead after 54 holes. Finished second. Somewhat disappointing, I am sure, but still very remarkable holding the U.S. Open title, runner-up at the Masters, those are some heavy statements.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I am now starting to realize that I can play these sort of tournaments and compete. It was disappointing that I didn't quite perform the way I would have liked to on the last day, but I just try to grind away and see if I can maybe at least finish second. Tiger was playing really well so I knew I had to really do something special. But I had a bad start and that really put me quite far back, was difficult to pick up.
Q. This year at the U.S. Open you are going to be the defending champion. What expectations are you going to place on yourself?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I am going to go out there and try and really to defend my title. It is going to be a tough one, but I have got more chance of winning it now I think than I did last year. Nobody expected me to win last year but now I know I can, so this year I see myself having a better chance of trying to win it.
Q. One last thing, besides the magnificent trophy that you won last year, you touched upon it earlier, forever now, when you go to a 1st tee, in an event it is Retief Goosen winner of the United States Open. To me, that almost seems better than any amount of money, or any trophy that you could ever receive.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I think that's probably the greatest honor you could have, standing on a 1st tee and getting introduced that way. I am one of the lucky few that managed to have that announcement on a 1st tee. It's going to be in my mind always and hopefully I am going to add to that.
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