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February 21, 2006

Retief Goosen


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Retief, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the World Golf Championship, Accenture Match Play.

First time here in the United States for the 2006 season. Started out the year pretty well. Why don't you talk about being back and also being here at the Match Play tournament.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, it's been a good holiday. I've had a seven week break in the last nine weeks. So I haven't played that much golf. I started off pretty well in Dubai, but the game gradually got worse as the week went on and Johnnie Walker even worse. So I'm looking forward to it's nice to be back in action, as you say.

Last week I didn't do any practicing, really. I picked up a cold in London with the weather this time of year. But in general I'm looking forward to starting the season here now, and hoping to get off to a good start this week.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: The golf course looks good without any rain here, the first time in a couple of years.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, but I've got to go play this afternoon and see what it looks like, and I'm sure it's going to be a lot better than it's been the last few years. It's going to be fun.

Q. The rumor last week was you weren't coming here.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I don't know, I'm here.

Q. It wasn't a late decision, was it?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, no, I was always playing.

Q. Have you ever played this course when it wasn't half submerged?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I don't think so. It's going to be nice to play some of the holes as par 4s today instead of par 3s. The course is going to be good. I'm looking forward to it, and obviously, who have I got, Broadhurst, who has been playing very well for the last year or so. He's come back to being a top 64 in the World Rankings, so it's going to be a tough match to start off with. And he's a Ryder Cup player, so he knows all about match play.

Q. Any good memories coming into this week, after last year?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I got off last year, I really threw it away in the final, really, against Chris DiMarco; I should have won, but we didn't. But, yeah, I had a good match against Ian Poulter; we both played extremely well. We had a very good match on that Sunday, which hopefully I can keep up this week.

Q. Is this a course where you feel comfortable?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's going to be nice to play dryish for a time. The last few years has been so soft that for me, I'm somebody that gets a lot of spin, it's difficult to keep the ball from spinning off the greens. I'm going to play this afternoon to see what it looks like. I hope it's playing more firm and I can hit more shots into the green.

It's a good course. Last year it was tough with the rough. I don't know what the rough is like out there this year, but it should be a good course.

Q. What did you spend your time on?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I was in South Africa for two and a half months. I got there, I played a few events. I won the South African Open just before Christmas. I had a six week break, I just couldn't get myself to leave there and fly to Hawaii. I just needed a break.

The first time in my life I put the clubs away for five weeks. I didn't touch them, and just last week I started hitting a few balls again.

Q. What did you do on those weeks when you didn't touch your clubs?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I was I've got a place down on the sea gate, and went up into a game preserve for a couple of weeks up north, visited my parents, water skied. I did everything I haven't done for a while. So that was nice. I laid in the sun, got a bit of a suntan. But generally it was just eat and drink, mainly. I didn't do anything, no exercising, nothing.

Q. Putting on a fair bit of weight?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I've shaken it the last couple of weeks again. I was back in the gym a bit working out. And Australia, you sweat it out pretty well. Friday it was 42 degrees Celsius, so it was pretty warm.

Q. What's your general feeling on match play? Do you prefer it or

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's nice to play this sort of format once a year. I don't think everybody wants to play it full time. But it's a bit different than the World Match Play; you have 36 holes every day. In a way you can recover a little bit so maybe if you had a bad morning, you can make a comeback. But over here you've got, from the first hole onwards, you've got to be at the top of your game, and there's no way of coming back from four down after ten holes; it's difficult sometimes to come back.

Q. Do you have any plans to go to Augusta and take a look at the course and the changes they've made?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, the plan is not to. I'm playing BellSouth the week before Augusta. I feel like I get enough preparation at the BellSouth to go before Augusta. From the changes I heard it's it favors the long hitters once again. But it will be nice to see the course, it will be nice to play it in also some dry weather for a change. The last three or four years it's been wet. The plan is not to go up there.

Q. I was going to ask you for a comment on how Rory Sabbatini has played this year?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Rory last year at the beginning of the year was struggling, but he's working really hard on his game. He has a new coach and all that kind of stuff. He was determined to turn it around and it's showing; he's starting to play really good golf at the end of last year and now this year it's come through. It's great to see that he's coming through.

I feel there should be more good South African players on the Tour. We have a lot of great youngsters, so it's nice to see Rory is making a break for it.

Q. How different does Augusta play now than it did seven or eight years ago for you? Do you have to hit different clubs, different shots than say in '97, the year Tiger won the first time?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it's a totally different golf course. When I went there the first time, you could hit it anywhere and get it on the green. It tests everything in your game now. It's nice to see they've done that to the course. But I don't know, some of the holes that they lengthened, we didn't figure take it needed lengthening. Maybe if they left it the way it was a couple of years ago and just grew a bit of rough, it would be a better course. We played it so wet the last few years that the ball hasn't run at all.

Q. There are a lot more European and International players in the field this year. I was wondering if you had any insight as to why they seem to be getting better.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, golf is worldwide game. But I play worldwide golf. I play Australia and Asia, and even the tournaments I won in Asia, I had to play some of my best golf to win. And that shows on the stage over here. It doesn't matter where you play in the world now, the guys are knocking in very low scores. And you need to play your best golf.

And it's nice to see that well, the PGA TOUR is sort of becoming an International Tour. It's more and more International players getting on to it now and it shows in World Golf how strong it's getting.

Q. Are you going to play more in the U.S. this year than normally?

RETIEF GOOSEN: The plan is pretty much the same sort of schedule as the last few years, around 19 events.

End of FastScripts.

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