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July 13, 2004

Retief Goosen


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, we have the U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen. You had two major titles to your name. And the past two tournaments you have won, is this going to continue the winning sequence at Troon this year?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I hope so. I'm looking forward to the week, and I think I'm well rested and ready to play.

Q. Are you surprised you won in Ireland?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I enjoy going to Ireland and I've done well there in the past. This year was a new golf course, and when I got there I liked it. I liked the way it was setting up. It was pretty tough conditions. And it was pretty good practice for this week. I was sort of feeling that I'm feeling well. I knew I had a good chance of winning it.

Q. I'm curious, from the emotional hangover, if you will?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I was very tired. I didn't really have much of a week off the week before. But I've had last week off and I'm ready to get going again.

Q. Maybe you're too rested this week?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I don't think so. It doesn't feel like it. I played one round of golf last week and went to the driving range twice. So in general, I'm feeling confident.

Q. Where did you go to the driving range?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I just played around Wentworth.

Q. On the range, did you go to the range there?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I just used the range there.

Q. This is the second time you'll be going into The British Open as U.S. Open champion. Your mindset this week compared to how you felt in 2001? More confident, similar?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, definitely more confident. You don't want to get too confident at these type of events. You know that, yeah, maybe you're playing well, but this golf course can turn around very quickly, this type of golf. But I feel like I'm hitting the ball well and I'm putting well hopefully. So I'm looking forward to a good week. The course is really tough, and especially yesterday the way I played, going the first nine holes you feel you can drive every par 4, and coming back you can't reach it. It was quite a different influence. Even downwind, you know, you think it's easy, but you can't stop the ball. You've got to release, even with a wedge, coming to the green, 20, 30 yards, and into the wind, most of the par-4s, it's going to be tough.

Q. Do you feel given the fact you play so much golf in Europe, and even though your major wins have come at the U.S. Open that maybe internationally and in North America you get enough respect as one of the top 4, 5, 6 players in the world? In general, do you get as much credit as, say, Ernie Els or Vijay or some of the other players that you share rankings with?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Probably not, but they've been around a little bit longer than me and played well for such a long time that you expect that. But I think now I'll get a little bit more after the U.S. Open this time. But I think if I keep playing well for another few years then it will probably start happening a bit more, it will happen the way it's happened for them. But I think there are some guys here that respect the way I'm playing and so on. But I think I've got a little bit of catching up to do with guys like Ernie and Vijay with what they've done over the last ten years.

Q. Did you in fact drive any greens yesterday? Did you have a go at driving any?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, pretty much the first, the second. Yesterday on No, I think it's 6, I hit driver, 8-iron. And this morning it was driver, 3-wood short of the green. Yesterday the first sort of up to No. 7 is pretty much -- besides 1, a par-4 that you feel like you must take a chance of driver, to get try to get up and down.

Q. What did you hit for your second shot on the 11th yesterday?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I hit 2-iron. I had a good drive and 2-iron probably five yards short of the green.

Q. Of all the tournaments you've played and won, have you ever been in a situation where it seemed like the entire world or at least the world watching that day was against you? And what was that like?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, like I was telling you, you expect that sort of reaction from the crowds. If we were playing in South Africa the guys would be rooting for me and jumping up and down when I make a putt and that kind of stuff. But I'm sort of used to it when I play over there now, that when you play an American that the crowds will root more for him than they would for you. And it didn't bother me. I sort of -- they want their guy to win. So now then you've got somebody that was making a bad chip trying to put you off, but I didn't really worry about it.

Q. You could tell you weren't phased by it. I was wondering if you'd been in a situation where it wasn't as much someone cheering harder for the one but actually cheering against the other?

RETIEF GOOSEN: You mean at the U.S. Open?

Q. Yes, Shinnecock, to be specific.

RETIEF GOOSEN: I think probably it was quite similar, they were rooting for the other guys, but Shinnecock was the most that it's been rooting for the other guy than for me.

Q. Does it make it anymore rewarding?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It does in a way, yeah. It shows you that you can play under that sort of pressure and what's going on outside the ropes. Yeah, winning it that way makes it more rewarding. And that's what I was trying to do, I was trying to win it and to show that it doesn't really put me off.

Q. Your thoughts on the field this week. It seems strange there was a lot of changes on qualifying, but you got, out of a hundred players in the world, 29 aren't here, some players that won in Europe aren't here. There's a lot of players missing. It's a strange field. Your thoughts on this?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, there's been a lot of problem of prequalifying this year, as we know, which is a shame. I think the guys have been trying to get prequalifying as easy as possible for everybody, not just prequalifying over here, but prequalifying in America. A lot of players didn't even try to prequalify. I don't know if they're going to change that rule and just go by world rankings, and just certain merits on every Tour. It will be quite interesting to see what they might come up with. In a way -- there's a lot of names on here that you've probably never seen or heard of. But I suppose they want to try to make The Open as open as possible for everybody to have a chance to qualify and get a chance to play in it and not try to make it a Masters where it's straight off the world rankings and past champions.

Q. But it seems like it's the other way around, making it as open as possible, at least for the professionals. What was wrong with having everyone who wasn't exempt, to come over and qualify at the links nearby?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, we're not guys that want to travel from America to just to try to qualify. This year they had a lot of prequalifying places in America for the guys not having to travel just to prequalify. And when some of the 48 of the players don't pitch up, it's disturbing.

Q. 52.

RETIEF GOOSEN: But there are certain players that are exempt that don't bother coming over, because they don't want to travel.

Q. At the U.S. Open, especially in the back nine, your putting -- you putted lights-out, and many would say that was skill, some would say luck. How much skill and luck play on this course, and in this Open this time around?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, you're going to need the breaks, like any tournament when you try and win it. Like Ben Curtis, he got the break when Thomas messed up on 16 and he got the break to win the tournament. You need the breaks as well as playing well.

At Shinnecock, me and Phil, we played well down the back nine. He putted well, we had the same putts.

At 17, he 3-putted and I 1-putted. And that's where the turning point came. But you need the breaks, definitely on a golf course like this. You need the right bounces. This golf course is rock hard at the moment. Like I was saying, the only time you can stop the ball is when you play into the wind. But the par-4s are so long you can't reach the holes. Downwind you can't even stop it with a sand wedge. It's going to be a patience game. If the weather blows like yesterday, I don't think anything under par will win this tournament.

Q. Living in London and raised in South Africa, do you have particularly strong feelings about The Open versus, say, the U.S. Open or any other majors and this type of golf in particular?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I've always liked The British Open. I always felt like if I was going to win a major, this is the one I would. And I had a lot of top 10 finishes in The Open over the last few years. And I just never really got it going enough to give myself a chance to win it. But hopefully this week I can get into some sort of position this coming weekend and give myself a chance on the weekend.

At the end of the day you would like to win any of the four majors, it doesn't matter which one it is. There's no real specific one that you put first. I think a lot of guys like to win The Open, being the oldest, and Augusta. I think probably in America comes first for most of the players that they would like to win.

Q. Why did you think this would be the one you might win?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't know. I sort of like the style of play, and how you have to play these golf courses. And that's just the way I like it.

Q. You say you feel a lot more confident now. Do you think this is your best chance to win this year?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, if it's not this year, hopefully next year. But I like to think I'm playing well and I'm confident and you never want to be too overconfident in these sort of tournaments. But I think I'm gaining experience as we go along around these tournaments, and hopefully that will help me to try to win these top events. I know I can win them and it's just a matter of doing it.

Q. We just had Tiger in and he's followed by police officers, security guards, checking everybody's badges. Are you glad you don't have all that or are you aspiring to that level of super stardom?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I'd like to have it where it is at the moment, and go how it is. I had Angela escorting me. I'm sure she can escort out a few guys that give me trouble. No, I'm pretty happy the way it is. I can do a lot of things Tiger can't do.

Q. Like what?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, he can't just go and walk into the local pub and not be recognized. So for me, I can still go down to the local pub and sit in a corner there and have a drink with friends and not get bothered.

Q. Some might say you're not the most colorful of players in the field or top of the field. Is there a side of you that maybe we don't know and do you care if we know it or not?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I've got way more colorful shirts. Everybody has their style of playing around the golf course. Tiger used to get very involved when he used to make putts and things like that and he has even turned down a bit on that, and not quite as many fist pumps as there used to be.

But, yeah, you have your older guys like Darren Clarke trying to be more colorful now, and getting hair cuts and all sorts of stuff, and 300 pound pair of trousers that are so ugly that you don't even want to think about it (laughter).

But in general, once I get out on the golf course, I'm so involved in what I do that it's difficult to sometimes just let go. But most of my friends that know me, I'm pretty open when I'm around them. But it's when I'm around other people I just don't show that much.

Q. Can you tell us about what your life is like in London? Do you have that same sort of anonymity there, as well?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I enjoy where we're staying. We have a lot of friends and are close to Tracy's family. It's easy. I enjoy going down to Orlando, as well, where I have a base when I'm playing there. But I'm calling London home.

Q. As a younger player, did you come over to try to qualify?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I did once, I think, but I missed it by a shot, which was -- it was the year Ian Finch won.

Q. Where were you living at the time, do you recall?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It was in South Africa. I just came over to try to prequalify and play a few Challenge Tour events.

Q. Expensive trip?

RETIEF GOOSEN: In those days it wasn't too bad. Now it is, the way the exchange rate has gone. It's pretty tough for the guys from South Africa to come over.

Q. By adopting London as your home, are you able to counsel a bit more support than the average player here?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I've always had pretty good support when I play over here. I've been playing in Europe now for long and I have my sort of mini gallery that follows me. And in general, get very good support and especially around, yeah, the tournaments in Europe.

Q. In the last round at Shinnecock, it was quite clear that Ernie put himself out of contention, was he any help to you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Not really, he was still trying hard. I think after No. 10, that's when he really sort of gave up. I think he felt he was well out of it. But, yeah, there was a few times he was saying, come on, make a birdie or make a putt or something like that. He was trying to encourage me, but in general he was trying to stay away, let me do it myself.

End of FastScripts.

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