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April 5, 2005

Retief Goosen


CLAUDE NIELSEN: Let's welcome Retief Goosen from South Africa. You had an outstanding campaign in 2004, capturing the U.S. Open, THE TOUR Championship, one PGA European Tour title and one South African tournament, runner-up in the 2002 Masters, winner of the 2001 U.S. Open, a total of 17 international wins and five PGA TOUR titles.

Retief, if you'd like to make a few comments and then we'll open it up to questions.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's always nice to be back here. When you walk through the gates here, it's a special feeling. So I'm very much looking forward to the week and hopefully will get something going.

Q. A bunch of guys last week punched out of Atlanta early and headed up here. Why did you stay? Why did you finish that thing off?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I felt like I needed a practice. I'm not playing as well as I would like to, but you never know. This week, hopefully it all starts falling together.

Yeah, I'm confident this week that I'll hopefully get something going. I need to start hitting the ball a little bit more consistent, just not hitting enough consistent shots, and club selection has not been a that great, either.

I felt like, you know, I needed to be here and get the practice in.

Q. How would you compare your game now compared to say four or five years ago to when you had that tremendous run? Is it a difference in your swing or approach? What do you think the main difference is?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I think it's definitely more of a mental attitude on the golf course than five years ago. I've learned a lot, how to cope with the pressures around the course, and that's really been the improvement of my game.

Q. You mentioned you weren't quite there yet in terms of the all-around, but you've had a pretty healthy string of Top-10s, last week notwithstanding. What is it?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, we all know it's a fine line in this game between playing really well and winning.

Q. You've been right there.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I'm there, but like I said, I'm just not consistent enough, throwing in a bad round with the four rounds, so that doesn't help.

I don't know, it's something that I need to look at and work on and see what I can get to improve my game. At the moment it's not where I would like it to be, but, you know, like I say, once you tee it up over here, you have a bit of a different mental approach around the course.

Q. What can you take out of the U.S. Opens and having two of those, take into the Masters, yet another major that you would want to perhaps add to your collection?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, at the moment this course is drying out very quickly. The greens are getting to like the U.S. Open, the speed, which is good. I like it when the greens get really quick. Hopefully we'll have a semi-dry week for a change. It would be nice to get into some sort of rhythm, as well. It's been tough the last three weeks with all of the rain delays and stuff.

But I'm looking forward to the week. The U.S. Open, yeah, obviously can help me this week definitely a lot.

Q. Does mentally having the titles, does that help you now, when you look back?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, mentally it does. You know you can do it under the pressure and you can play under the pressure. So definitely that helps this week, yeah.

Q. You said the primary difference in your game is mental from five years ago. How much of a role did Jos play in that? Can you give an example of what he might have done to help you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's between me and him what we did. I worked with him for about three years, and Ernie has now been working with him probably two years. So he's helped Ernie's game and mental side of the game, so he's good at what he does. He has his own ways of doing it. It's not quite -- some of the things that are not quite as professional as you would think he'd do, but he has a way of waking up the brain a little bit.

Q. Does he raise his voice on occasion?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, Jossy has that little short syndrome; he's a little bit on the fiery side.

Q. To what do you attribute some of the problems with the club selection? That's kind of unusual.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I don't know. Since end of last year, I played with the new TaylorMade RAC irons and played okay, but for some reason I've found a bit of inconsistency. Sometimes I felt like I hit a good shot and it wasn't even near the green. I actually went back to my old clubs in the last two rounds of TPC, so we'll maybe see if that helps me a little bit with club selection.

Q. Would you be happy if this course stayed dry and hard and fast?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it would be nice. I think I've only once played Augusta hard and fast. I don't know how many times I've been here now, but in the last three years, it's been pretty muddy. It would be nice to see it play a bit different for a change.

Q. To follow up on that, you've had months to think about it, the last day at the U.S. Open last year made a lot of players angry; they could not keep their composure and they didn't like it. Why were able to keep your composure? Why were you able to prevail that day?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I was playing well, obviously, and when you're playing well, it doesn't matter what the course conditions are; you want to stay ahead. It's difficult to come from behind on a golf course like that to try and win.

This week if the course stays like it was at the U.S. Open, it's going to be very difficult to make up shots from behind. It's going to be the guy that is in front that will hang on and win the event.

Q. Did you and Ernie learn the game similar ways? You seem to have sort of similar relaxed, powerful swings. Is that something that came through junior golf in South Africa?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't know. You know, I only met Ernie really when I was about 14. We grew up very far apart from each other. I'm sure he had some sort of coach. I think his dad was pretty much his coach, as my dad was helping me out and learning really just to swing from golf books.

So I don't know why we have quite similar swings. Obviously in this game, you need pretty good rhythm.

Q. Speaking of Ernie, this was the first of many disappointments in the majors last year, and you're as close to him, I suppose, as anybody out here. How did he handle that, and is it true he was okay after a couple of beers and back to his usual self or was there scar tissue left over from what you can see?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Ernie has taken it in good light and learned a lot from it. Obviously he knew it was just one shot here or there, maybe the wrong club or wrong decision, and it cost him. He'll be a factor this year in every major we play.

Q. You sound as if you're not really sure of what you need to do to be more consistent. Are you groping at all for a solution?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Not really. I think I'm hitting the ball pretty well. I think I made few bad decisions in the last few weeks, club selection, and maybe the shot I was trying to hit has cost shots, but like I say, I get around this course and I know it pretty well and I know what shots are required.

I might hit the ball great this week. That's what you need to do, just that one week, to hit the ball well.

Q. When we spoke yesterday, it didn't sound like you had a ton of confidence after the week at BellSouth. Ten years ago Ben Crenshaw came here and had no game at all really and won, so how important is confidence for you going into a major?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Inside I'm confident, you know, that I know I can do it and play well. But at the moment, the golf swing is just not quite allowing it. You want to hit good shots, but you're just not hitting the right shots.

In a way, it's a bit of a worry, but like I say, once you get out there on Thursday and you stand over the ball, you know what shots you have to hit, you just have to get down and do it. So your mental approach and your whole swing thoughts and keys will probably just come back.

Q. Would you compare how you felt going into Southern Hills and Shinnecock last year to how you feel now, do you remember?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I won't say I'm very far off from where I was when I went to Shinnecock.

Q. Be honest, there's talk every week about the Big Four; does that hurt your feelings when you hear talk about a Big Four, not a Big Five?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, it doesn't, not at all.

Q. And why?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's something you guys made up. I didn't make it up (laughter).

Q. Is there anything in particular that you've been working on in your swing the last couple of months?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Not really. Since Bay Hill, my rhythm and timing has been a bit out, so it's been probably the thing I've been struggling the most with in the last three weeks is just getting good timing and rhythm going in a swing, getting a little bit quicker times, and so that's something I just need to, you know, focus on this week.

Q. A lot of people say that this is the most pressure-packed of the four majors. If you could compare the four, what's the feeling like when you're playing at Augusta, when you see it every year as opposed to the other three courses?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's hard to pick one which is toughest. I don't think there's an easy one. Augusta, I think just the history behind it and what's happened on the back nine on Sunday, I think that sort of works more in your mind than really the toughness. Any other event, the U.S. Open, the PGA that moves from course to course, British Open, as well; so you don't really have sort of that history to think what happened in the past. I think that's the main thing that works in your mind a bit more here at Augusta on Sunday is what can happen and what can be done.

So I think that's where the pressure is maybe a little bit more.

Q. Because it's been eight months since the last major, is it more anticipated than the others; not that it means more but more anticipated maybe?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, being the first one, as well, for such a long time. The guys are sort of fired up a little bit more and, you know, it's just the crowd out there in general, really, as well. The atmosphere adds a bit more pressure.

Q. If we can go back one more time to Ernie, to shoot 67 here on Sunday and not win is a little tough. His level of motivation coming back, have you guys had any conversations about that at all?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I haven't spoken to Ernie about it. I obviously said well played and tough luck. He'd done all he could. He made his mistake probably on 13 which probably cost him the event, and he will learn from that.

CLAUDE NIELSEN: Thank you very much and good luck.

End of FastScripts.

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