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July 16, 2005

Retief Goosen


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Retief Goosen, 66 today for a total of 207. 9 under par, and leading in the clubhouse.

Retief, that's a very nice position to be in. Your feelings after that round today?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it was great. It obviously started off nicely with a birdie on the first. I hit it close on the second and missed that. And then you sort of feel the next birdie hole is really No. 5, and I made six. And really, walking off the green at No. 6, I sort of said to Colin, "I think we're a little bit out of this now, but we probably have to birdie four of the next five holes." And I birdied three in a row and suddenly things started looking a little bit better.

I still messed up on No. 12 a little bit, but then obviously 14, 15 and 16 are the key holes. I think 15 and 16, any day you can make a par on those holes you are pretty happy. But to make birdies there got me into this tournament.

Q. Do you think it's a case of anything you can do at this stage of the game, Tiger can do better? Can he blow it in those conditions?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, the conditions have pretty much been the same since we teed off. The first nine is playing fairly tough, actually. And the back nine you're struggling to keep it on the greens. I sort of feel you'll probably get through No. 5 probably at about even par or something. You've got your chances 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Those are the sort of holes you feel you need to pick up a few shots. I don't know what he's going to do today, but I hope not to fall behind starting off tomorrow.

Q. For a guy that claimed not to be playing very well this season, can you describe why?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I wouldn't say I've been hitting the ball as good as I know I've been hitting this year, especially my irons. My iron play has been terrible. Yeah, you know, the problem is I had a bad round in between the four rounds. And yesterday, a 73. At the Masters I had a bad round somewhere there. And obviously the U.S. Open was a bad last round. I'm not being consistent enough. But, yeah, hopefully tomorrow things can turn around and I'll start making some putts early on again and give myself a chance coming down the stretch.

Q. How much more are you driven now, given your disappointment of the U.S. Open in that final round? Are you even more determined to make up for that here?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I'm not determined to make up for it. It was just one of those things that happened. I'd just like to give myself a chance every time on Sunday and hopefully one day it works out and you win again. That's all you can do in this game. You can't force it. You just have to keep grinding away and hope it happens for you.

Q. As you were coming in, did you notice that Tiger had bogeyed 2? And did you think about how your round would stand up against that?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, we were walking down the fairway or walking to the green on No. walking down the fairway on 16 when they were teeing off at No. 3 and I saw that he dropped a shot. Yes, the game's on a little bit now. It's not easy out there, some holes. You can make mistakes very quickly. But you can also pick up birdies very quick around here. But I'm sure he'll recover from that. And like I say, hopefully tomorrow I'll not to fall behind starting off.

Q. You said when you came off the 5th green, you said to Colin, maybe we're too far behind. Did he say anything to you? What did he say?

RETIEF GOOSEN: He just Colin's a pretty positive guy, he just said, "Keep grinding. Keep driving." That's all you can do in this game. I hit a poor drive on No. 6, actually. I was very lucky. I very nearly was in the bushes in the right and managed to make four.

And on 7, I hit a very good sand wedge in there.

And 8 is not easy.

And then you feel like No. 9 feels like a par 3 today. It's just an easy drive onto the green there. So, yeah, to make those three birdies I suddenly felt I was back into it, and my momentum was sort of turning.

Q. Michael kind of joked about the fact that the leaderboard looks similar to Pinehurst with you and he and Tiger. Is this the type of golf course, or Pinehurst the type of golf course you would like to play in the final round? Is there one better for chasing or being in the lead than another?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I won't say it is. Either one of them is great to be in the lead or have the lead going into it. This golf course I think is probably a little bit easier to hit the greens, but you might be a hundred feet away from the flag.

Pinehurst, you hit the green and you're about four feet away. I love St. Andrews, obviously. I've played here since '85. I think I played my first amateur tournament here. So I've played a few rounds and I know it pretty well.

Q. Can you talk about the difficulty of 15 and 16? We all know about 17.

RETIEF GOOSEN: 15 today was a 3 wood, and I had 113 yards left. Just a chip, sand wedge, and I landed it short of the green and it bounced up there 15, 20 yards and ended up three feet away. That's a flag there that I've never seen before there, as well, very difficult to get close there. So it was a bonus there.

16, I didn't hit I hit a good second shot with a 7 iron but I pulled it just a fraction. I was trying just right of the flag and it came out just left of the it landed just left of the flag and just managed to miss the bunker on the left so it was a bit of a bonus there.

Q. Can you talk about your confidence level coming here this week after Loch Lomond not doing much?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Loch Lomond, I practiced pretty hard the last three weeks. I hit a lot of balls, worked on my game quite hard. I started to hit the ball better and better at Loch Lomond, I just didn't do anything on the greens. Because I was so far behind there wasn't really that much momentum or anything to play for, really. But I was just looking forward to this week, coming here this week and trying to do well.

Q. Over the past couple of days some of the players have come in here and said, well, Tiger is out in front. So we hate to say it, but we're almost playing for second place. How do you personally fight that feeling? How do you avoid that trap?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's pretty much in every major, everybody is trying to beat Tiger. You feel like if you finish ahead of him you're going to win the tournament. And that's how it is in the majors. It's the same again this week. You just keep playing, keep trying. When Nicklaus was in his prime, everybody was just trying to finish ahead of him to win a major. It's the same thing.

Q. The circumstances might be a little different tomorrow, but if you and Tiger are close or if you're near the lead, what lesson, if any, can you carry from what happened at the U.S. Open on Sunday to this Sunday?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't think there's anything to have learned at the U.S. Open. It was just one of those days. Everything I did was wrong. If I hit a good shot, it was the wrong club. I misread the greens a lot. I don't know if there's anything that I can say that I learned. It was just a big disappointment. It was just one of those rounds. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and I'll just try my best. I think tomorrow is going to have to be a low round again to win it.

Q. You hit 3 wood into 18 today, 2 putts. I know there are other holes that guys are doing that on. What do you think of 18 as a finishing hole for a major championship? Is it too soft for your guys' skills and can you make a real mental mistake on it?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's playing straight downwind today, dead downwind. You just need to hit a 3 wood 260 yards through the air and it's going to run the rest, 80 yards, onto the green. If the fairways were soft it would stop there and it would be a more difficult second shot. But I've hit driver, 6 iron, on 18 before, when the wind blows the other way. So it just all depends on the weather. And we're fortunate this week it's playing straight downwind. But I don't think come tomorrow when you need a birdie, it's not going to be that easy birdie. You're going to need to hit it on the green and have two good putts.

Q. There were huge crowds following Colin and Tiger today and a lot of attention on them. Does it suit you as a personality and a player to be the sort of forgotten man of the tournament?

RETIEF GOOSEN: In a way. I didn't feel I was out of the tournament, you just knew that you had to shoot a low round today. There was a few low rounds early this morning, even before I teed off, Hansen, I think shot 6 under. So I knew it was possible out there. And I got off to a good start with a birdie on the first, and it sort of cheers you up a bit. But obviously you feel like there's a little less pressure on you than what there would be on Colin today, teeing off with Tiger and trying to have to shoot a low round to keep up with him.

Q. I recall about say three years ago you were paired with Tiger at the last round at the Masters. It may happen again tomorrow. Have you been paired on another occasion on Sunday with him? Can you talk about the effect of having to play with him?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, obviously the big the problem is not playing with Tiger, you enjoy playing with him. The problem is blocking out what goes on behind the ropes, the noise and people running around everywhere. So that's the main thing is just to really try and block that out and stay focused on your own game. But I always enjoy playing with Tiger.

Q. There's obviously a lot of golf still to be played, but what would it mean to you to follow in the footsteps of country men like Bobby Locke, Ernie Els, Gary Player, to win here?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Obviously to win at St. Andrews, The British Open, would be very special. Not too often in your career you come around to play The British Open at St. Andrews. Yeah, to win The Open like Ernie and Bobby and Gary has done would be great.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Retief, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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