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November 1, 2005

Retief Goosen


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Defending champion Retief Goosen, thank you for coming in this week at the TOUR Championship presented by Coca Cola. You shot a fourth round 64 here last year and overtook Tiger Woods and Jay Haas. Maybe make some opening comments about coming back to East Lake.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it's great to be back here. Obviously I really like the course. It's in great shape this year, and it's dry at the moment. It's definitely playing a little bit shorter than it did last year, but it's a bit more difficult to hit the fairways because there's so much run in the fairways, you run out of fairway quite easy, especially on the back nine with the fairways being quite slopey.

But overall if the weather is going to stay like this, I think scoring can be a little bit on the low side again.

Q. Is it shorter or are you just that much longer?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I mean, last year the course was very soft and there was no roll out on the fairways. It was easier to hit the fairways but you had longer second shots into the greens. Today if you hit it down the middle of the fairway, you get 20, 25 yards of run, so you're definitely going in with shorter irons.

Like I say, it's a little bit more difficult to hit the fairways because you're getting so much more roll out of the fairways.

Q. It's obviously a small field, 29, but it's the most talented field. What's the mindset as you go into a tournament like this with just 28 other competitors?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, well, you still know you're going to have to play like hell to win. Like you said, it's the best 29, 30 players of the year playing here this week. You have a few guys to worry about, but in general, you know you're going to have some tough competition out there.

Q. There's a lot of talk about the season is too long and stuff. For someone like you, where do you see the season start, and is this the end or the beginning of the next season?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't know, it sounds like there's a lot of very unfit players out there that want the season to be shorter. But I think there's a lot of other issues involved there, too, why the season is going to go shorter. But for me, I go back to South Africa from here. I've still got four events left in South Africa before Christmas, so I still have a couple of events to play, and then I start all over again in Hawaii by the looks of it at the moment. So there's not much of an off season, really, for us.

Q. Which event in Hawaii?


Q. You're playing there?

RETIEF GOOSEN: At the moment I'm still planning on playing it, but I'll see how I feel Christmas time and New Year's time how I feel.

Q. Did you change your mind from two weeks ago?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I said there's probably a chance that I'm not going to go, but it's not a final decision. I'll decide more closer to the time and see how I feel then if I'm going to go or not.

Q. Would you do Sony if you went over?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, if you go there, you've got to play both. I mean, in a way, it still feels like holiday when you're down there, even though you've got to tee it up and play golf. But otherwise it's a great place to go and play golf, and you have a good time after the round.

Q. What would you put the odds on you playing Kapalua?

RETIEF GOOSEN: (Smiling) Pretty good.

Q. The way you won last year shooting a 64 tracking down Tiger, does that give you a lot of confidence going into this particular golf course again this year?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, obviously I like the course, I like the way it sets up, I enjoy the greens. I putted very well here last year. Although I know my game hasn't been quite that good in the last couple of months, and the last two weeks I played, I played terrible. So hopefully I'll find some form very quickly before Thursday starts.

Q. When you originally saw the 18th hole here, what did you think about it, and has that changed at all?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I think the 18th is a great hole. The whole back nine is all very good golf holes. 18 is good. Today was a 2 iron for me on a no wind day. I think it's a great finishing hole.

Q. But you didn't have that stigma of finishing out with a par 3? I'm just wondering if that hole has grown on you having played it now?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I think a good solid 3 as a finishing hole is pretty good. It doesn't always have to be a par 4 or a par 5. I think when you're going to need a par on this last hole to win, you're going to have a tough time.

Q. Birdie almost impossible?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, birdies aren't. I mean, Vijay Singh a few years ago birdied it nearly every day. It's not an easy hole to birdie. It's a very slopey green, although it's quite large, but it's a small area you've got to hit it to to get to close.

Q. Where would you put this win for you? Obviously below the U.S. Open, yeah?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, definitely.

Q. But would you put it ahead of Chrysler or International or a European event?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Winning this event, yeah, it's one of those dream events every player wants to win, this one, the one at Sawgrass, The Players, and then the majors. Those sort of six events are the ones we all want to win, and then the world events come behind it, I think.

Q. World events come behind this you think?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I think so.

Q. Why would you say that? Not that I'm disagreeing.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's 30 players that played hard all year long who have all those other events to do well and to qualify for this event, so I think to win this one, it really sort of really caps on your year that you've had a great year to get into this event and then to get into this event.

Q. Were you surprised at all when one person didn't think enough of it to show up?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I don't know. He has his reasons. I don't know what it is. I just found out about it yesterday, so I'm not quite sure what the story is there. He might have an injury or something, not comfortable or something. I mean, he's got to have some sort of excuse not to play. I mean, serious excuse.

Q. Would you talk about this year, kind of evaluate it? You have some disappointments, a lot of success. How do you look back at this year overall?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's been an up and down year. Obviously the majors has been a bit disappointing, although I've had a couple of good finishes. The U.S. Open was obviously a complete mess up, but I had a good run here winning The International and winning in Europe, winning in Asia. I've been playing well, but my game just hasn't been consistent enough this year to really compete in the really big events.

Q. Did anything change in the middle of the year that turned it around for the second half?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, not really. I just decided to play a little bit more, and I played eight events in a row, which was probably too many. I just felt like maybe instead of practicing, I would play a bit more and see if I could fix my game that way instead of having to stand on the range and bash balls. And I got my game right that way.

Q. Have you had a lot of thought about what happened at the U.S. Open? Do you have any other ideas about what happened to you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: You know, that golf course was one of those courses that was very much like Shinnecock; if you were slightly off your game and you started hitting a few bad shots, you sort of lose focus around that type of golf course very quickly. Suddenly you're not seeing yourself making any shots, you're just seeing yourself hitting bad shots. I think that's what happened. I mean, I was trying as hard as I could on every shot. Probably after No. 11, I was suddenly six shots or something behind, and that's when I really knew it was all over for me and sort of lost interest coming in.

Q. Do you think what we've seen in Open courses in the last two years you won at Shinnecock and then what happened at Pinehurst, do you think that's what we're going to see in the future at U.S. Open golf courses?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I think so. I think you're going to see that obviously Shinnecock, the conditions got dried out very quickly, Pinehurst the same. Yeah, I don't know what it's going to be like next year, but it's going to be thick rough or something quite similar. But I think you're going to see if you're slightly off your game on a certain day, you're going to make a big number. That's what happened with me. I just was off my game, really, the whole week at Pinehurst, but I chipped and putted very well and kept the ball in play in the first three rounds, and then on the last day I hit a couple of bad shots and lost momentum.

Q. Have you talked to Ernie at all lately?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Actually I haven't spoken to Ernie for about three weeks, four weeks almost. I know he's been in and out of the country over here doing a few things, but I hear he's doing very well and thinking of playing a couple events in South Africa in December.

Q. How is your health and fitness now?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I'm feeling okay. I'm sort of getting over a bad cold I had during the week of Disney. I was a little bit sick then. But last week I struggled a bit with my game, but I feel good this week. I'm feeling ready, I just need to get my concentration going. Last week I was pretty much brain dead, couldn't really get any focusing going. When you're struggling with your game, it's hard to do that. You don't see the right shots at the right time.

Q. What do you think the winning score will be this week?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I was thinking about that today. It is more difficult hitting the fairways this week, but the course is playing shorter. I think it's going to be pretty similar to last year, somewhere around it. I think if somebody this week drives it really well, you're going to be able to shoot some low scores around here because there's a few holes, like No. 1 today, last year the best I think I hit in there was 8 iron, and today sand wedge. The same on No. 3 was driver, 9 iron last year, and it was driver and a lob wedge today. The ball is just running out 20 yards on the fairways.

There's a lot of opportunities to get it closer to the flag if you hit the fairways this week, but the rough is really heavy, and with this rough you can't get it onto the green.

Q. What would happen on certain courses like last week or this week if the fairway grass were say this thick and you got no roll? What would be wrong with that?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't think there would be anything wrong with it. The slower the fairways, the easier it is to hit the fairways because you can hit it down the right and it stops short of the rough. This week it goes into the rough. You've got to definitely drive it more accurate to keep it in the fairways.

Q. How often do Tracy and the kids travel with you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: They travel often enough. They've gone back to London. The week of Tampa, last week, they went back.

Q. They were with you at Disney and then went back?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, so I'll see them on Tuesday.

Q. I wonder if a guy like you from South Africa who travels all over the world playing golf, how do you organize your life? Most of the guys in America know where they're going to be and know what to expect in January and throughout the 12 months of the year. How do you cope with that?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's something I've done all my life. It's not really that bad a trip from here to Europe. I mean, from here to Atlanta to London is going to take you six and a half hours' flight. You know, you fly West Coast to East Coast and it takes nearly the same time. It's not really that bad. It's when you start traveling to the Far East that it starts getting a bit tough, when it's eight , nine , ten hour time difference that it gets tough. I only play in a couple events in the Far East and the rest is in Europe and over here.

I don't really find the traveling that difficult. When you sit in a first class seat it's quite comfortable. You get served, sleep when you want to sleep. It's quite comfortable. It's not that hard a thing. You watch a couple of movies and next thing you know you're here.

Q. What was your most satisfying week of this year if you had to pick one out?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't know (smiling). Obviously winning again on the PGA TOUR this year, The International, it was nice to pull that off. I had a couple of bad weeks earlier in the year, so it was nice to get something going there. I played well at the PGA, just a couple of bad shots here and there, and I could have had a chance. I also had a bad finish on the Monday when we came back, so if I finished birdie birdie, I think I would have been tied with Phil. But otherwise I had a bad finish, a par and a bogey, I think. I probably could have got close there.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Retief Goosen, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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