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March 4, 2004

Retief Goosen


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Retief Goosen into the interview room. 5 under par 67, nice start to the tournament, Retief.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it wasn't playing easy today. Really from the first hole onwards, it was blowing. I think, you know, the way the wind is blowing, you play three par 5s downwind, they are all pretty much reachable. I think I had some shots on the par 5s today to keep the score down.

JOHN BUSH: You birdied the first and you got on quite a roll there on No. 6; can you take us through your birdies real quick.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, No. 6, I hit driver, 5 iron, to about 20 feet. The next hole, I hit driver, lob wedge to about ten feet. No. 9 I hit 5 iron probably to about three feet as well then I hit 5 iron on the front edge and it stopped there. I 3 putted and stopped my roll a little bit. The other par 5 I drove a 3 wood in the back left trap out to about eight feet. Then bogey, I hit 3 wood off the tee and should have hit 7 iron and that time came up short.

Q. What hole was that?

RETIEF GOOSEN: 16. And chipped down to about five feet and missed it. First hole I hit driver, 6 iron to about 20 feet, 2 putt.

Q. You haven't played here for a while, four years, any reason? Were you in Dubai?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Just didn't work out with my schedule. I was either playing in Australia or somewhere like that, but I always came back for Bay Hill or Honda. Yeah, it's the first time I think in four years that I'm playing here. But I enjoy the course. The course is good. Obviously today a lot of the par 4s played really tough. 5 under, I'm very happy with the way I played today. I haven't played much over the last month. I've had three weeks off and then played the last week one round and went home.

So it's nice to get a good round under the belt and sort of get your confidence up for the rest of the tournament and what's coming up.

Q. Didn't you already have three Top 10s this year?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, the first four events, three Top 10s. I played pretty nicely. I think my putting let me down a little bit early on in the year. That sort of didn't give me the chances of getting right up there with a chance to win.

Q. Do you know you've got 26 straight rounds of par or better going back to last year?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No. I don't look at the stats like that. I just tee it up.

Q. You should.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Just keep going, you know. (Laughs).

Yeah, I hope to keep it up and see how many I can get under par. But every round you go out there, you're just trying to play your best.

Q. Is par going to seem like birdie on 18 today at the end of the day?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, 18 I hit a good drive and a 2 iron to the back edge of the green there today. Then the first hole is so much longer, 10 yards longer and you can drive a 6 iron onto 10. The par 5, I hit 2 iron, 5 iron. It shows you how strong the wind is playing out there.

Q. Going back to Tampa, are there any similarities between the Florida courses and the courses you grew up playing, grasses or design, or is there any way to explain the way you play here?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I grew up on some similar type of greens, the grain grass. I'm pretty good at reading the grain. That was my home course, we had this type of grass, so I suppose that helps me a lot more. And I like bentgrass, as well.

Q. Tim Clark was saying earlier that you guys were raised kind of on the coast in South Africa so, the wind was really right up your alley; was that the case for you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No. He grew up on the coast. I grew up about seven hours drive away. (Laughter.)

No, where I grew up, it was sort of high, dry altitude, probably almost the same as Denver, so the ball went a long way, almost like the desert, really in Phoenix, very dry heat. Not much wind that I can remember.

Q. Have you got the whole family here this week?


Q. Is that a first or have you done that, taken the new baby out?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, he's been traveling since he was a couple of months old. So he's been on the road a few times and been sick a few times on picking up bugs on planes.

No, he's good fun. I really enjoy having him around.

Q. I know you were frustrated with the greens last week at La Costa, can you talk about how happy you are here to get off the poa annua and on something more comfortable?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I think what makes the poa annua also so difficult is obviously the greens were soft and it rained a lot, but I tend to struggle a little bit with taking spin off the shots over there. I prefer these type of grasses, it's a bit firmer. I prefer firmer greens and faster golf courses.

It's the same for everybody, but I've played it now last few years and lost pretty much in the first round every time or won last year in the first round and lost in the second round. It's definitely not my favorite event on the calendar.

I will probably think of changing my schedule next year for something that I feel more comfortable in playing.

Q. Like Ernie.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, Ernie had his reasons for not coming over, but, you know, you either like a course or you don't. He loves Wentworth and he enjoys playing around there. Every time he tees it up there, he wins a round. It's a course that I really struggle to score around, it's really fun. It's a great golf course.

La Costa is a great golf course. For some reasons, some golf courses don't suit your eye and you just never trust the shots.

Q. Do you feel slighted when you hear them say "a lot of the top guys aren't here"? You're the top ranked guy here, do you feel slighted when you hear that and do you miss the challenge of playing with those guys, Tiger, Ernie, the rest?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, they obviously are playing in Dubai this week. We all know why they are playing in Dubai this week. This is a great event and it's great for Ford putting up the money. This golf course is getting better and better. They have lengthened a lot of holes now. Ernie loves this course. Tiger loves this course. Just didn't work out for their schedule this year to play it.

Q. But do you feel slighted when you hear "the top guys are not here"?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, the top guys can't play every week, although they are playing this week somewhere else. I think a bit of variety sort of improves your game, as well.

Q. What kind of captain is Ernie going to make on your Lake Nona team?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I'm sure that he will have a couple of cases of beer for us and we'll be nicely mellowed by the time we get on the first tee.

JOHN BUSH: Retief, thank you for coming by.

End of FastScripts.

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