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August 8, 2007

Retief Goosen


KELLY ELBIN: Retief Goosen, ladies and gentlemen, joining us at the 89th PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club. This will be Retief's 10th PGA Championship, his best finish being a tie for sixth in the 2005 PGA at balance as recall golf club.
More importantly, Retief is the winner of the last major championship play here at Southern Hills, the 2001 U.S. Open.
Welcome back. Must be some very warm, if you will, feelings for Southern Hills.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, definitely. It's always nice coming back to a place where you've won. Especially a major. And like you say, in a PGA, I've not really done that great in the past, but to come back to a golf course that I've won on before, gives me some good feelings.
The practice round I played today, you know, brings back a lot of good memories of putts you made, shots you've hit. And the course hasn't really changed that much. There's a couple of new tees out there. Obviously 9 and 18th greens has been flattened a little bit at the front.
But overall, the course is exactly the same as last time. But I think the rough is definitely a little bit thicker than last time.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions, please.

Q. Two questions. One is you seem to have done well in so many majors, having won them and a lot of Top-10 finishes including second at the Masters. Wonder if you think majors brings out the best in Retief Goosen, and also can you talk about was it difficult to overcome what happened on the 72nd hold and to win that playoff against Mark Brooks in 2001.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it was a long week that week. Eight rounds of golf I played, Monday to Monday.
You know, the majors do seem to since that event, bring out the best out of me. The 72nd hole was a bit of a disappointment. I putted so well the whole week, and then the last, it was a bit of a lack of focusing, really, and not fully concentrating on what I was trying to do; and hit a poor first putt and misread the second one coming back.
So it was hard that evening. I was pretty tired. Although I slept pretty good. The following day I just told myself that, you know, now that I'm playing well, just got this one guy to beat out here, not the whole field. And through ten holes, I was quite a few shots up, and that sort of helped me pull it through in the back nine.

Q. Along the same lines, it is a different setup, I assume, than it was by the USGA people, while it's a similar course, is it different and do you have an advantage up here because you did win here in '01, going in tomorrow's opening round?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I hope so. I definitely know what shots are required to get it close. And like I say, I played a lot of golf that week so I know this course pretty well.
But I think the rough, like I say, is a little bit thicker than it was for the U.S. Open. I remember that you can have a go at the green, some shots out of rough.
But today a few times in the rough, I couldn't get it on the green. I think the scoring is going to be a little bit higher than it was in 2001.

Q. You got to have another chance the next day after your putts on the 72nd hole here. Stewart Cink didn't get that opportunity. Did you ever talk to him about that? And did you ever think about how hard it would be to take missing the short putt at the end that turned out to be more meaningful than he thought at the time?
RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I didn't speak to him about it. I'm sure he was trying to forget about it. I was trying to forget about mine.
I'm sure it was very disappointing for him. But, you know, he's got another chance this week to try and make up for it.

Q. The other thing, he said he thought in his mind he was trying to get out of the way and clear the stage for you.
RETIEF GOOSEN: I'm sure. I felt to myself, you know, I've had it in the bag then and just 2-putt, but we all know the 18th green wasn't cut all week because of the speed of it. In my mind, like I say, I was just not quite focused enough. I just said to myself I had to hit it harder than any of the other putts on the golf course. And whacked it through the break, and like I said, I misread the one coming back.
The harder putt for me was the third one to make to get into the playoff. And so for me, I was lucky to have another chance coming into Monday and try and win it, which I did.

Q. There's been three first-time major winners this year. In two of those cases, the guys held off Tiger Woods down the stretch. Do you think that there's the same aura around him of being able to beat him, usually when he goes into a major and he's near the lead, people think that's it? Do you think that's the same these days?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, definitely. Most players feel if they finish in front of Tiger, they're going to win the event. That's what's happened this year in the majors.
So, yeah, I definitely think he's still the guy to beat every day of the week.

Q. After testing this course a couple of times, do you have a target score in mind and what it will take this weekend to win?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It's a good question. I think with the heat we're going to have this week and the greens going to dry out a lot, I think. Today they were a little softer; they are quite scared they may die out there. I think you're going to look at somewhere around par again. Maybe a score, 2-, 3-under maybe, I think. But I think the course is playing a little bit harder than it did in '01, especially the rough.
KELLY ELBIN: Retief's winning score was 2-under-par 276 in 2001.

Q. Very hot here this week. Curious with golf around the world and Africa and stuff, if one tournament stands out as the hottest that you played over the years?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, probably this week. The hottest I've been on a golf course has been in Singapore, Malaysia and those places. I think, it's the humidity there just kills you. It definitely feels warmer there. It might not be as hot temperature-wise over there. But you pour out sweat all the time. Singapore is probably the hottest I've been.

Q. Could you give us an assessment of your year since Augusta? I'm guessing the results haven't been what you would expect.
RETIEF GOOSEN: No, it's been pretty terrible. Start off pretty okay in the beginning of the year. Played fairly well on one event, and Augusta wasn't great until the last two rounds, suddenly started making some putts. I'd say my putting has been part of my game that's been pretty bad not making anything on the greens. If you can't make putts you can't score. And then it gradually works into the rest of your game, puts more pressure on the rest of your game.
So I think putting has been a bit of a problem for me of late. Not that I feel I'm hitting bad putts, pretty much misreading greens a little bit. I have good memories of the greens over here I remember a lot of the putts here. Hopefully that will help me out this week.

Q. Follow up to that, you're known as one of the best putters on fast greens, how frustrating is that when that part of your game isn't in prime form?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yes, that's true. But we don't play that much fast greens. Augusta is quick. Putted well there on the weekend, and so hopefully I'll putt well this week.
Yeah, I prefer the quicker greens, definitely. So hopefully make some this week.

Q. Do you remember how comfortable you felt in the practice rounds before the 2001 U.S. Open?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I actually played with Nick Price in the practice rounds here, yeah. So I think I learned a lot from what he was using off the tees and some of the places he was putting to on the greens. Definitely I think I learned a bit from him that week.

Q. Are you superstitious enough that when you return to Tulsa, you would maybe eat at the same place, stay at the same place, anything like that?
RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I'm not, actually. I stayed in a hotel this time but this time I've got the whole family over here so we're renting a house down the road, which is nice. Funny enough, I think in 2001 Stewart Cink stayed in that house we're renting this week. Now we're really getting superstitious (Laughter). Maybe we'll swap it around this time.

Q. Just a follow-up, you were saying your warm weather golf when you played in Singapore and Malaysia in such hot conditions; how did it affect play and what did you do to deal with it?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, the most important thing is to stay hydrated. You've got to drink a lot of water out there. Played nine holes today and probably drank five bottles of water. So you probably are going to go through 10 bottles of water plus, in a round of golf, from tomorrow on.
But me personally I'd rather play in the heat than play in the cold. My body seems to work a little bit better in the heat. I struggle in cold weather.

Q. Players have been saying the course is conducive to kind of all flavors and styles because everybody plays to the same spots in the fairway with whatever club that may be off the tee. I'm curious as to how many times you think you'll hit driver and what would be the assortment of clubs you would hit off certain tees on the par 5's, say driver and what variety?
RETIEF GOOSEN: A lot of the holes plays in everybody's hand. No advantage to being a long hitter or disadvantage being a short hitter.
There's a couple of new tees. The third that was also a 2-iron or 3-wood. Now you got to hit driver pretty much. I use driver on the 2nd. The 3rd, the par 5 down the hill there; on 12, 13, par 5, I used driver today. And then 16. Six times I used driver.
You don't necessarily need to hit driver off them, but the fairways are very well laid out, little dogleg holes. So it's not easy to hit it with any club off the tee. So it's really how you feel about your game, how aggressive you want to get.

Q. Can you talk about the first three holes here at Southern Hills, especially the changes on the tees at 2 and 3?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, No. 2, yesterday, a good driver and an 8-iron to the middle of the green. And the same on No. 3, I drive a 9-iron to the middle of the green. And those were fairly good drives. So the third hole is definitely a much bigger change to what it was in 2001.
The second hole, still looks the same pretty much. But the third hole I think it's a big change.
KELLY ELBIN: 2001 U.S. Open Champion, Retief Goosen. Thank you.

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