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November 2, 2003

Retief Goosen


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome the 2003 Chrysler Championship winner Retief Goosen, 12-under 272. Retief, the fifth person to win each of the last three seasons on TOUR, just the fifth. That's a pretty good task there.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes. I didn't know the stats you are looking at, but it's starting out to be a great year now for me. It was a bit of a slow start and so on, but it's been a great year, the birth of our first child, now a win in Europe and a win over here. It's turning out to be a very good year.

Q. You moved up to 10th on the money list. Let's talk about today though, 1-under 70, but you pretty much had the lead the whole way?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, I started off with a birdie on the first and I made a silly bogey on the second. But I always, knew Vijay was going to be up there and he got very close to me on the 8th hole. Number 9, I made a very bad mistake. Instead of hitting a 9-iron I tried to force a wedge there and plugged it in a trap. Actually I got lucky Vijay made a bogey there.

Then I made a good birdie on 10. It made me feel comfortable, I think the birdies on 13 and 14.

And then he bogeyed 15 so I just knew I had to hang on the last few holes.

16, was obviously a very tough driving hole and then the last place you want to hit it is into the drink. I hit a very good tee shot there and sort of just hung on.

Q. Was that kind of the key, the drive on 16, as soon as you hit that, you knew Vijay would have to do something really bad?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, obviously a bad bogey on 17. I tried to cut a soft 2-iron in there and I pulled it. I caught a very bad lie on the back of the green. I made bogey. Yes, three shots going down the last, anything can happen. I know Vijay could make birdie after he teed off first and he made a good -- he hit a good tee shot. I just leaked my drive a little bit and caught a terrible lie and I did well to get tight where I got it to. Lucky it didn't roll really past the green and just leave me a straight forward chip up the green. So once I chipped it out a couple of feet I knew it was all over.

Q. Did Tiger call you yet?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I'm sure he will.

Q. Retief, you talked about kind of crazy things for you to play well in the round last week, you wouldn't have showed up this week, and you wind up winning the tournament.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, that probably would have been the case if I played really well last weekend, which I did, I just putted terrible on Sunday. But I decided that I feel like I'm playing well enough. I'm going to play every year. From what I heard, it was a good golf course and it's not 25-under par or anything like that. That I like. I like it when you have to really grind it a little bit around the track, and I know just really anything coming down to putting.

Q. You came out this week and really played well on the par-5 holes; what was the key to that all week?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, the par-5s are actually quite tough holes here. They are all close to 600 yards. I suppose that I did play them pretty well. The first hole is actually a very difficult driving hole. But I managed to make birdies every day by laying up three times. Only once I went for the green and that was today.

The par-5s are, you know, I think pretty much a key to any tournament these days, if can you get a few birdies on them, especially if you got four of them out there. And most of the majors we play nowadays there is only two par-5s and none of them are reachable, so it's not that you can really pick up shots.

Q. Did you feel comfortable today? Did you feel like you were grinding out there? How did you feel about your game today?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I felt fairly comfortable. I know I wasn't hitting the ball as well as I would like to. But I have a good feel for the course and that's what it all comes down to; you got to feel comfortable when you stand over the ball. There is just no way to leave it on the greens.

Once again I putted very nicely today and that was the key. I obviously got off to a nice start, a bad bogey on 9 like I said, but a birdie on 10. Obviously, 13 and 14 was the key holes.

Q. This is the first year of this event as a full field tournament at this date. There was obviously some questions going into -- as a first-time tournament; what do you see as the potential of the event and do you think anybody who was here will likely come back?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Oh, yes, definitely. I can't say everybody played here this week that they don't want to come back. It's a great golf course. It's a tough golf course. You got to really work your way around it. It's not just hitting it out there and finding it. You know, the greens are very tricky. It's a great golf course. This tournament is definitely, for me, one of the better tournaments that I would play on TOUR.

Q. I know you beat Vijay today. Talk about how well he is playing; it seems he is playing better than anybody out there right now.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Vijay is playing really well the last three years. His ball-striking is good. He didn't drive it as well today that he would have liked to. I know he hit a couple of drives that cost him a few shots. But I think his putting has really come along a lot the last couple of years and that's really putting him up there.

Q. How do you feel your game has progressed over the last two years?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I feel my game is getting better and better. I feel like I'm learning a little bet more about my swing out there every day. I can see things getting better for me. I feel like, obviously, this game is a very up-and-down game.

This year it's been a year that I have put golf second and really focused on the family side of life, and, you know, suddenly I started playing really nicely in the last three months winning in Europe and coming over here and playing really good. I just feel I needed to get the ball to the greens and it's happening now.

Q. Retief, I think this is your 18th tournament here this year which is the most you have played. How do you see next year and the year after playing out now, now that you have got a kid and bouncing back and forth is going to be a little more difficult to do? Do your priorities here versus there, are you trying to keep the cards in both places; does that become more of a challenge?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, definitely. I will play both tours. Probably, next year I am leaning towards the same amount of tournaments, maybe a couple more. But I definitely want to keep playing Europe. Let's see if I can do a little bit better there next year than did I this year and give myself a chance to win a money title there again.

But it's something that I don't want to run away from Europe. Obviously my wife's family and everyone is still there. I am just going to pretty much work it out like I did this year. A month over here and a month over there and just play the events and the courses that I know I like.

Q. I wonder if you could talk about 13 and did you realize that was Ernie telling you to back off the shot?

TODD BUDNICK: The helicopter?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No; was it? At least he could have waited an hour to give me a lift back. I'm sure I will see him tonight and we will have a few drinks. No, I didn't realize that was him. The lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Q. What about the shot, you backed off?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I saw it coming over there and obviously I knew he was going to come straight into my eyeline, so I was going to wait for that. I knew Vijay pulled his 7-iron a little bit, and I knew it was going to be easy. And I had a really nice soft hole 7-iron in there. I knew it was an important putt that it could be a 2-shot swing. I hit a really good putt and he hit a really good putt to save par.

But I think, obviously, the next two holes were sort of key holes that put me four in front.

Q. Is there one house separating you guys?

RETIEF GOOSEN: 100 yards.

Q. Fatherhood and more geared to a family; has that changed your game? Can that help your golf game, not overthinking things?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I think it can. Ernie has had a great year and he also just had a new child, a joy. In a way it puts golf second and you are really not always thinking about golf. You are thinking about kids. When you get home it's them and not sitting there thinking about the game all the time.

It's like when I take time off in December, I'm going to take five weeks off, I won't hit a golf ball for five weeks. I will just completely leave the game behind.

But you sort of mentally in a way prepare yourself as well when you come back out.

Q. When was the birth date?

RETIEF GOOSEN: The boy, mine?

Q. Yes?

RETIEF GOOSEN: The 8th of March it was.

Q. What's his name?


Q. You've alluded to the challenge of playing both tours, maybe staying here a month and going back; do you enjoy the challenge, or do you ever sometimes think if I concentrated on one I could do so much better, or do you just enjoy trying to play both? Obviously you will be Top-10 in both.

RETIEF GOOSEN: I enjoy both. It's nice. I never played a full season over here. But I know in a way I think, when I go over there, I'm really focused on a specific event, and I try to do my best. And I come over here and focus on this event and try to do my best instead of just week-in and week-out playing. I try to work it out that I'm over there for three weeks and come back over here and have a week off and then start over here for three weeks.

For me the way I'm working my schedule out, it's been working for me and it's been working for Ernie.

Q. Watching you play the last couple of days you appeared quite unflappable on the course; is there an emotional side of you that people don't get to see?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, you are always going to be nervous in this game. Doesn't matter who you are. Tiger is nervous. Everybody is nervous. You really focus on the shot in hand.

I think that's obviously the toughest part of our golf. If you are not in contention it's sometimes easy to go out there and shoot 6 or 7-under and go home.

But when you enter lead one or two shots ahead, suddenly the game is not all that easy and it's become a bit more of a grind.

Q. Do you think when you think of yourself and how you play, that this sort of relates to the bouncing back and forth because I think you get short shift over here to some degree because of it; are you in the top three or four players in the world in your own mind? Are you right there with the rest of these guys?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, I think so. I feel like I moved up a little bit over the last three years and I learned a lot in the game. I feel like I'm definitely up there in the top six players in the world. That is sort of my goal, to see if can I get back into a better position than I have been in. I would like to see if can I get one better.

Q. Do you get out of changing diapers or anything?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, I enjoy changing the nappies; that's not a problem. I enjoy it. Maybe if there is a second one coming along I will say, no, I've done my bit and get somebody else to do it. Me and my wife, we don't have a nanny. It's the two of us, we feel that we want to be very much involved in his growing up in the first few years, definitely.

Q. You mentioned a minute ago fourth is the highest you have been in the world ranking?


Q. How high do you think you can go?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I got a long way to go before you get to No. 1. I think I got to win 20 times in the next two years to catch Tiger. Hopefully he doesn't finish second in those 20 times that I play. He is so far ahead. Vijay and Ernie are also picking up a lot of points this year.

So there is not a lot of events left this year but I can probably -- I don't know where I would be after today. But can I probably try to sneak up into 6th or 7th.

Q. In the last month or so we had Ernie talking about his goal is to be No. 1 and Vijay thinking he could do it to, understanding it may take a few years. A couple of years ago in 2000, when Tiger was doing what he was doing --

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, nobody is going to have a chance then. We just hope he goes through one of his slumps over the next two years and only win four times a year and we win seven times.

Q. The thing that was unthinkable back then, why is it thinkable now; is it because everybody is getting better or because --

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, the guys feel the way they're playing and the whole standard of the TOUR has improved; it's going to be become more and more difficult for Tiger to win week-in and week-out. There is going to be so many more guys there that can win. And they probably feel, if they have a great couple of years they got a chance to move up very close to him. And he is going to have to lose some points for him to catch.

Q. Do you think this change in attitude is the way they look at themselves or the way they are looking at him?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I think it's a bit of both I think. The guys feel like we can beat him. But it's never going to be easy the way he is playing. He has lots of years ahead of him while Vijay and myself and Ernie, we are quite a bit older than Tiger, so he can probably only improve and mature even further into his game.

Q. I'm sure the TOUR would like to thank you for prolonging suspense into next week and the Player of the Year race; are you kind of excited to see how it plays out between those two guys? They have been neck and neck down the stretch?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, I think it's all going to come down to that event, who is going to be Player of the Year. I don't know how far Vijay is ahead of Tiger. But I think Tiger is probably going to have to win it to obviously win the money title. I don't know if Vijay finished second if he still wins the money title. I think if Tiger wins it, I think he will win Player of the Year.

Q. If the Volvo Masters is the same week next year as this, does that present a tough dilemma for you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I will just have to wait and see, if I am in the running again for money title over there, then I will probably play over there to see if I can secure that. But if it's like this here I would love to come back here and defend.

Q. Have you ever not defended a title, a tournament you won around the world?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I have always gone back to defend.

TODD BUDNICK: Retief, birdie No. 1.

RETIEF GOOSEN: A driver 3-wood just to the front edge and chipped down to about ten feet.

Q. Bogey on 2?

RETIEF GOOSEN: A 3-wood, wedge, left of the green, and chip to 20 feet and missed it.

Q. Ideally, that first chip on 2, where did you want that to land?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It was in long rough where people had been walking. I was trying to basically flop it and land it about two yards on to the green. I really hit it a bit fat.

Q. How long was the bogey putt?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, it still finished up on the fringe and the fringe was into the grain and the putt was downgrain and it never came down. I left myself a good 8-footer for bogey and I think that was a key putt because I knew Vijay was probably going to make 3, so to only lose two shots was good.

On 6, it really was a driver, 7-iron, probably 40 feet. Briny Baird had to putt first. I knew it was a slow putt, and he left it quite short and I just drove it ten feet past the hole. That was just stupid at the end. I came back on the next hole and hit a good 2-iron off the tee and hit a wedge down to maybe four or five feet.

10, a 3-wood off the tee and a 9 to about 15 feet.

Q. 7-iron on 13, how far was the putt?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It was probably a good 2-footer.

Q. 14?

RETIEF GOOSEN: A driver, 3-wood, just short. Chipped a 9-iron to about four feet.

Q. Then a 2-iron on 17?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, I put an extra wedge in my bag this week, a gap wedge. I took a 3-iron out and got to 17 and I needed a 3-iron and I tried to hit just a high soft 2-iron in there and just really pulled it and that's why it went long. I couldn't afford to hit the 4-iron and leave myself too short or in the right trap. I felt like if I could just hit a soft lie on the back fringe it would be fine.

Q. How much tougher would those last three holes be if you only had a one-shot lead?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It will always be tough. Likely most of my wins have come from having quite a bit of lead going into the last few holes. Once I'm out there that's all I feel like I want to do. I just want to get as far ahead as possible. I really play hard and try to do that. Luckily it happened for me again this week. I mean 16, you know, I think there was only one shot in there. It would be tough for both of us, me and Vijay. Vijay in a way feels like I'm not going win it, and I know I have to hit the fairway so the last couple of holes would be tough for both of us.

Q. With that said, Retief, what did you think when he cut it for one when he cut it to one?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I felt like it's going to be a grind all the way through to the last hole, but I picked up three shots in three holes all of a sudden and then you're just trying to drive the car home.

Q. I know this didn't apply at all to you today: Can you think back to any time earlier in your career when you were trying to make a number to get your card for the European Tour or qualify for the Volvo Masters or something like that; can you at all relate to some of things the guys were going through today, be it they were 125 or Top-40?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, it's tough. I have been pretty lucky since my first year on TOUR. I won in South Africa which exempt me in South Africa (inaudible). Then I went to my very first event in Europe, the Dubai Classic and finished second.

So in a way I have really always never had to worry about keeping my card. I have always been exempt or things like that.

For those guys, fighting for their position, it's the same as trying to win a golf tournament. The pressure is, you know, probably more for them than it is for us. They know if this doesn't go in it's a whole year that they basically fall out. So the pressure is really tough on those guys having to go back to TOUR school. TOUR school is probably one of the toughest tournaments to play in.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you and congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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