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June 17, 2005

Retief Goosen


RAND JERRIS: We're now joined by Retief Goosen in the interview area. With an even par round of 70 this afternoon, 2 under par, 138 for the championship.

Retief, perhaps you can start us off with general comments about the playing conditions out there this afternoon.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, the wind was actually quite tricky. It was didn't really know which direction it wanted to blow. Every hole felt like we were playing into the wind. It was quite tricky to judge the wind out there today compared to yesterday, so yesterday was just constantly blowing, but today it was all over the place. But the course is drying out very fast now. The greens are still I think they're still keeping them alive, but the fairways are getting very firm now.

RAND JERRIS: Walk us through the birdies and bogeys on your card.

RETIEF GOOSEN: I started on 10. I hit a driver and hit a 3 wood, hit a good pitch shot from over the back of the green to about three feet.

15, I hit a poor 5 iron off the tee 6 iron, sorry, pushed it down to the right. Sandy lie, tried to run it up with a 3 wood, got it down to about 12 feet and missed the putt.

First hole I hit driver, sand wedge probably about to six feet and made birdie.

4, driver, 3 iron, just over the back left, chipped down probably to 10 feet, made the putt.

And then 5 and 7 I made poor bogeys, really. I had 9 irons into the green on both of the holes and made 5. Really felt like I probably should have finished at 4 under or even 5 under for today, but this golf course is going to get you that way if you hit a couple of poor shots.

Q. What's your game plan when you play at a U.S. Open just a general rule of thumb, since you're obviously doing this better than anybody, mostly anybody, most times?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, every hole is pretty much a bit of a grind out there. I don't know why I'm suddenly doing well in this particular event. Still have a long way to go this weekend. You know, it's all about saving pars and making the right putts. I started putting a little bit better today, struggled yesterday, although I hit the ball well. But today I made a few good putts. Still not all that comfortable on the greens. I misread a few putts badly.

But generally this weekend it's just going to be a grind. It's not going to be easy. I don't know what the weather is going to do, if it's going to rain or not. This course is only going to get tougher. As we know, last year at Shinnecock the course was like this in the first two rounds and then suddenly on the weekend it was dead. So I don't know if they're going to do the same thing to the greens this year and let it start to die out or not.

Q. You've mentioned recently that you're not working with a swing coach and you're not a big fan of video. Do you regard yourself as a feel player, and if so, what are the things you try to feel on the range when you warm up or during the course of a round that help you with positions and all the mechanics of your swing?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I don't really work on any mechanics in my golf swing, it's all just feel. I just try and work on setup positions that make me feel better to make a better swing, really. At the moment I'm not too comfortable on my setup and I'm making a poor swing. So I'm going to have to go work on a couple of things. I think I have an idea what I'm doing wrong. So just to get out there and hit a few balls and get comfortable again.

Q. You said that you were disappointed you didn't finish 4 or 5 under. Do you look at that as a missed chance to distance yourself from the field or this is what happens at the U.S. Open and you're glad you're where you are and maybe not where David Toms is right now?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, I don't think you can really distance yourself at this event, maybe if you have a 12 shot lead going into the last round it might feel okay. But I didn't feel like finishing 4 under was any advantage, really, to where I am now. So 2 under is a good score and it's going to be a tough grinding weekend out there, so it's just who is going to make the least mistakes on the weekend.

Q. You're to the point now you're in contention for a third championship here. And beginning I think to be recognized as one of the top golfers in the world. How did you get to that point? What about you allowed you to develop your game to get you to this point and this ability?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, every guy every week is working hard on his game to get better. Obviously the 2001 U.S. Open was sort of a turning point in my career, confidence turning point, knowing you can play well under these conditions. And then you just keep working to try to win events. A lot of these guys, you just have to keep working away. You never know when it's going to turn in your way to play well. But I'm excited about this weekend and hopefully I can keep it up and see if I can win it for the third time.

Q. I noticed a couple of times you had shots in the first cut and didn't seem to do what you hoped to do there. I think No. 2, your 11th hole. Is it a little tougher to judge what's going to happen out of that first cut?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I think the first cut is pretty much tougher than the rough. In the rough you're just going to tough it out. The semi is about two inches deep. And you're not quite sure if it's going to fly, is it going to come out dead. It's very difficult to judge. I've had a few times now that you're not exactly sure. On 9 I hit a good one out of the rough there, I probably needed to hit it three yards more right, than where I did hit it.

Q. It seemed like quiet out there with you, which is strange for someone who is on the leaderboard and the defending champion; does that bother you, how does that feel?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, pretty much all the stands were packed where we played. Probably around the turn, there, No. 4, 5 it was a bit quiet, but it's so far out, hardly anybody goes there, anyway.

I feel that there was pretty good support out there today.

Q. Millions of golf fans and us have spent our lives messing around with mechanics, we have no idea what it means to feel the golf swing. Can you talk about that at all, where do you feel it; in your hands, rhythm, what's the feel of your swing, if there are any words for it?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, the feel is really, for me, feeling comfortable through the whole swing, which really comes down to good rhythm, good timing, eye coordination and all that kind of stuff. I know when I'm not swinging it well I might be a little bit quick. I think I was probably a little bit quick today and didn't quite time it as well as I did yesterday. So I need to go and just work on that, slow it down a little bit, I think.

Q. Just wondering if the wife and kids are with you, and if you guys rented a house or where you're staying and what you've been doing to kill time when you're just kicking back at the hotel or the house or whatever, here?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, we're renting a house this week, just down the road here pretty close, so it's very convenient.

Q. The children are with you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, and the children and the kids wife and the kids they're all here this week. Last night we went out to a restaurant, I think, for early dinner. And the other nights we've stayed in. Tonight I think we're staying in again, very late finish now, anyway. And tomorrow night we're going out again.

Q. What's it like taking two kids that age to a restaurant?

RETIEF GOOSEN: The restaurant was actually quite child friendly. We sat outside, which was quite nice. So he can run around wherever he wants to run off to.

Q. Is there a tournament prior to Southern Hills that gave you the confidence to play at this level, and secondly, anything about the texture of this course, not necessarily the design features that remind you of Southern Hills?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Southern Hills was definitely a lot more hilly course than this. The greens were probably easier than these greens, I would think, in the way of trying to hit them. But Southern Hills was just if you hit it above the holes you didn't have much chance of two putting with the slopes of the greens. I think they're quite similar in a way. I feel the way the fairways are, angled at you, always you're always hitting into a fairway that's lined sort of sideways on to you. They're not heading straight down a fairway, which makes it hard to hit.

Q. (Inaudible.)

RETIEF GOOSEN: The week before that was British Masters in the UK. I played I remember hitting the ball well, I just didn't putt well enough. And I actually tried a new putter that last round in that event and started making a few putts. And then when I came out here I kept on making putts. And that's been the key for the last two Opens I've won is putting, making the right putts.

Q. You've talked about how your approach and your game fits this championship. Could you talk about how your approach and your game fits each of the other three majors?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I haven't done very well in the PGA for some reason, I don't know. The Open I've been pretty consistent up in the top 10 finishing every time, but just not really putting four rounds together to win it. I'm looking forward to St. Andrews in about a month's time. I played a round over there about three weeks ago, around St. Andrews, just to see the new tees they've put in and what the course looks like. So I'm looking forward to that one.

Augusta, I love Augusta, I feel I have a pretty good chance to win at Augusta one day.

Q. You talked about this being a grind and you've talked about Open courses seem to fit you. What do you enjoy about playing The Open, this Open?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's not easy when you're out there, I must say. It's hard work and it works on your nerves and all that kind of stuff. But I always felt like I'd probably do better in a British Open than I would in this event. And for some reason I seem to do a lot better in this one. I suppose once you've done it once you sort of feel like you can do it again. And I suppose it's more of a confidence thing than when you're out there you have feel just a little bit more comfortable than you probably would be in any of the other major events.

Q. You compared Pinehurst to Southern Hills; can you compare it to Shinnecock, too, please?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, hopefully the course won't be the same on the weekend as it was at Shinnecock.

Q. Overall.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Otherwise we'll be here until next week. But I would say they're both great golf courses. I probably I would probably personally pick Shinnecock before I pick this one, but as long as I win around this one, I'll pick this one, too. But I love both of them, really. It's difficult to pick one, I think they're both great golf courses. This one is a lot more demanding, I think, on your iron playing to the greens than it was at Shinnecock, I feel well, at Shinnecock on the last two rounds, I suppose if you hit a green, you were happy. But I'm sure the greens won't get here like they were at Shinnecock last year, because it would just be impossible to hit the greens here.

RAND JERRIS: Retief, congratulations on your fine play, thanks for your time this evening.

End of FastScripts.

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