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March 23, 2005

Retief Goosen


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Retief, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at THE PLAYERS Championship. As we were talking as we were coming down the hill, you had an opportunity to play today. Maybe talk about the course. This will be your seventh time out there.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I had a quick round this morning. It's wet. It's very wet, but the greens are perfect. Actually the greens are really not that saturated. There's a couple that are soggy, but in general they feel pretty good.

Q. Not a secret you've struggled in times here before. What is it about this course that seems to have your number?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I don't know really. It's such a good golf course. You know, I like the look of the course, but for some reason, I'm just not hitting the right shots around it. Hopefully this year it will be a little bit different. I think it's going to be another tough week. I think weather-wise we'll probably be in and out of the clubhouse a few times again, but I'm looking forward to the week.

I think the course suits my game. I don't know why I haven't done that well in the past. I think this year might be a bit different hopefully.

Q. Do you think the wet weather, wet conditions, help you, hurt you?

Tiger, Ernie, Vijay and Phil, they've got one win between them on this golf course. Is there something here that takes driver away? Because that's sort of been their modus operandi out here to bash it out there and chase it down. Is it just that or is it The Masters is two weeks down the road and people are somewhat preoccupied with that?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't think so. I think everybody wants to win this tournament. It's like a major. I think this year might be different. You might see those guys up there come the weekend because the rough is not as high as it was the last few years. I think you have a bit more of a chance maybe out of the rough this year. So those guys, though they've struggled in the past, maybe have a bit better chance, plus the course is not going to be as firm as it was the past couple of years. Scoring is going to be a bit lower I think.

Q. Are you a fan of the 17th hole or what's your take on that?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, Jennifer was just having an interview with me and Tiger on the 18th, and she asked, "How do you think you've played the 17th?" And Tiger says, "Well, I don't know," and she said, "Well, you've played it five over." I said, "I thought I was pretty much the same." And she said I was 1-under. I haven't played too badly around the 17th in the past, although I hit it in the water today (laughter). That puts me over par.

Q. Are you playing next week?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I entered for the Bell South yesterday. I feel like it's a good course preparation-wise for Augusta. It's the same kind of shots you'll have around the greens, the same pace on the greens. It will be very quick, same grass, so I enjoy the course there and it's just down the road, so it's no real hassle getting up to Augusta from there. You sort of get acclimatized in a way. It's not very warm, and I don't think Augusta is going to be very warm.

Q. Last year the way you held off Phil in the U.S. Open, chased down Tiger in the TOUR Championship to win those two, what kind of positive step was that in your development over here and maybe in the reputation that you have with golf?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it's always nice beating those guys. That's what we all work for. I think I'm getting a bit more mentally stronger out here now as I play, more self-belief. I know I can beat these guys. I'm looking forward to the few years that lie ahead on the Tour here for me.

Q. Seems like all of your peers out on the Tour have been lobbying to make sure that it's called the Big 5 now. Everyone comes in here and says, "Why are you leaving out Retief"?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's not us leaving it out, it's the media leaving it out. Nobody really in the locker rooms talk about it. I think everybody sort of knows who the guys are that are playing well.

When Tiger was still No. 1, we knew that Vijay was probably still playing -- was probably the No. 1 player the way he was playing. At the end the World Rankings showed it, but yeah, I need to win a few more tournaments and a few big ones, I think, to really put my name up there.

Q. Do you get caught up in any of that talk, being part of the Phil and Vijay and Ernie and Tiger group?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Not really. I'm not really all that bothered about it. I go out there to play my game, and hopefully at the end of the week I win a tournament and that will take care of itself. It's nothing that I set my mind on it to beat these guys. You've got to beat the whole field. Everybody in the field can win any tournament.

Q. Do you feel like you are overlooked by us and that maybe you might enjoy kind of being that fifth guy?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's your problem if you overlook me (laughter). I'm quite happy to go home and relax and not come into the media (laughter). Yeah, I think, like I say, I just need to maybe come up a little notch to be more recognized.

Q. Looking back on the Open last year, is there any particular explanation in your mind why you were not having any special trouble putting on Sunday and everybody else seemed to be in a non-groove?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah. I suppose me and Phil were the only two guys that got into some sort of groove around the course. Ernie unfortunately had a bad day. When you're leading a tournament, sort of your mindset is you just stay ahead. It's your whole focus around the course like that, you just play shot for shot.

I putted really well, that's the main thing. Whenever you win a major championship or any tournament, you're putting really well, and I just got lucky that Phil made the mistake on 17 and that gave me the championship.

Q. What do you think the state of your game is right now? Do you think you're playing pretty well to be able to contend here?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't think I'm playing as well as I would like to. This year has been a bit of an up-and-down year so far. It's been fickle to get into a groove with all the delays and DQs and all that kind of stuff (laughter).

I've had a bit more time off than I normally have off. In the beginning of the year I took a month off, the whole month of February, and I actually played only three tournaments in three months, so not all that much. I'm getting into a bit of a groove now, and that's why I think BellSouth and playing for a few events more from now on to really get on a roll of things.

Q. What happened after the first round last week at Bay Hill? Did something just click?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it was really the first nine holes. I shot 6-over the first nine holes. It was a bit of a shock to the system, I think. It was like, "What's going on here?" I don't know what happened. Everybody has those days that every shot I hit found trouble, I kept missing the wrong side of the flags. And then from the second nine onwards, you sort of think, "Well, maybe I should pack my bags and go home and not waste my time." I told myself I'm not playing that bad, just need to keep going and learn a bit what's going on here, why is this happening, and see if you can work your way out of it. That's when I just started thinking of basics and just played shot for shot, and it gradually got better as the week went on.

Q. Strange that you should speak to well of the BellSouth course. You pulled out in one day one year and then came back and won it a year or two later?

RETIEF GOOSEN: That's right, yeah, I picked up an injury on the driving range the year before I won it hitting golf balls. I pulled a muscle and that put me out for about three weeks, but the following year I came back and won the event. I liked the course before, so -- it's quite wide off the tee. The front nine has its very narrow holes, the back nine you can hope it up a little bit more, but it's just a lot of the shots and the feel of the golf course reminds me of Augusta.

Q. Is your temperament almost one of your best assets out there on the golf course, the fact that you're just very rarely rattled?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, my temperament pretty much used to be the worst part of my game growing up, very tempered and so on, so I worked hard with Jos on it for about three and a half years to turn the mental side of the game around, and it's paid off. It's something I knew there was always a problem, that my focusing wasn't good enough to get around the course.

Q. You mean you were temperamental at one time?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, as a junior. I used to break clubs, threw a few.

Q. Sorry I missed it. What got you to stop being that way?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, first of all, I had to pay for all the broken shafts (laughter) and it was getting a bit expensive. But I think once I got out on the Tour here, I knew I could play the game, well, on the European Tour, but I was working at that time with Sam Frost on my golf swing, which is now probably six and a half, seven years ago, and I was hitting the ball well but not really doing anything around the golf course. In a way I just got more confused about the golf swing, not really thinking my way around the course, and that's why I stopped working with a coach, which is now six and a half years ago, and I haven't worked with one since. I've gone the other way and started working with Jos, and that's turned it around.

Q. How difficult is it knowing that the Masters is a couple weeks away to not think about that too much here?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I think everybody now is thinking about it. This week and Augusta I think are the two weeks, but I'm not really thinking that much about it. From what I've heard, there haven't really been any changes on the course. Besides 15, I think there might be a new pin placement on 15's green. I'll probably get there on Tuesday and just play one practice round and go. I know some people like to over prepare for a tournament, play six practice rounds or something like that.

Q. Do you think that's a place you should win and that experience maybe in 2002 proves that you're a player there?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I would like to be up there come Sunday again. I think I'll cope with it better this time. I just got off to a bad start last time and fell behind quickly and it was a bit of a struggle to catch up. I suppose coming down the last four holes I had my chances to get pretty close to Tiger and didn't take it, so it would be nice to be up there on Sunday and give it another try.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thanks, Retief.

End of FastScripts.

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