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May 29, 2003

Retief Goosen


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Retief Goosen, first round 67. Congratulations on a great round. You are the co-leader. If we can start with some opening comment on your first appearance so far at the Memorial.

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's nice to get off to a good start. The course is in great shape, the weather was good, no rain, like they said it was going to rain this morning. Overall, a very nice day.

Q. How do you feel your game is rounding into shape? You have the Open coming up, you finished third on the Deustche Bank, how is your game these days?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I'm not any more as good as I would like to be. I hit a lot of good putts which helps. Some of fairways here are quite generous, if you hit it off-line you can get away with it. I kept it in play. That's my main thing. Some of the flags were tricky, I would hit the middle of the green and take my 2 putt. So made a couple of long ones out there today which helped.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll take some questions.

Q. We have had people tell us that this course sets up a lot like an Open course, do you get that sense?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, definitely it's a great golf course. I'm sure at some stage we will play a major here. I can see it being very much a major golf course. It is now. The first time I played the course -- and I think it's a great golf courses.

Q. Has your schedule been difficult this year because of having a baby and all of that kind of stuff?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's been good. When I have taken time off, I have taken three weeks to a month so it was a little bit difficult to get back into the swing of things if you take that much time off. Because in general, when I take time off, I don't do any practicing. I put the clubs away. I feel like my game is slowly coming back. I am working on a couple of things. I am looking forward to The Open coming up.

Q. Will you play next week?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No. A week off next week.

Q. Retief, when you play in a tournament or a course for the first time, does it surprise you when you start as well as you did today?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I have always liked Jack Nicklaus's courses. We have played a few of them back in Europe. I have always like this sort of layout, the way he sets up his courses. Coming here this week, I felt quite comfortable. The course really is just in perfect condition. You know can you pretty much see everything in front of you, you just have to hit the good shots.

Q. Do you know anything about Olympia Fields?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Never been there, no.

Q. Just going in blind?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I think I will get a practice round in. From what I understand, the course is great. If it's going to be like this, it's going to be awesome.

Q. Will you go there next week?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I'm not sure but the plan is not to. No. I will get down Monday and play a couple of practice rounds before the tournament starts.

Q. How would you prepare for The Open? Will you work on special things that you think you'll encounter, or just normal practice?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I'll try and treat it as a normal golf tournament. I plan on 2 practice rounds and just see where everything is around the course and get a general feel on the course. I'm not somebody that can play 5 practice rounds before a tournament. I will get bothered by the third one. I feel a couple is enough for me.

Q. Is that the way you handled The Open?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Pretty much all of them, pretty much one or two practice rounds.

Q. It's coming up on two years since you won The Open, I'm wondering since then as a player world-wide but especially in the States, do you get a sense that people now know your name more and have more expectations of you, and is that something that you can just zone out and play like you did before you won The Open?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I feel that people do know me a lot more on the golf course than they used to in the past. Expectation-wise, no, I don't feel like there is any sort of pressure on me that way. I enjoy coming here and playing, and the crowds are generally have been appreciative to my game. I really enjoy it.

Q. This is your first time here, what had kept you away?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, this tournament is always the same week as the Volvo PGA back in Europe. So that was pretty much the reason.

Q. Harrington was in here and pretty much said the same thing, then wondered why he would not have this on his schedule every year. Since there seems to be a lot of European players here feeling positive about this venue, would that be something that would you bring back to Ken Scofield?

RETIEF GOOSEN: This year they did change it. The PGA was last week. Hopefully in the future it will be the same situation.

Q. Do you know why they made that, Retief, to finish on Sunday instead of Monday?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, idea really. I suppose it's up to the sponsors, really.

Q. For the European TOUR, is this a special stretch of tournaments, if you are playing Europe and then here, and then the U.S. Open?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, I think so. We had our big events over there, the Deutsche Bank and PGA. Then come over here and play this week. It all depends whether you want to play this week or not. Then the U.S. Open, then I play the Buick after the U.S. Open, a good little run, then back to Europe for the European Open, Scottish Open, and British Open.

Q. Do you think there should be more discussion back and forth between the 2 tours because the players do go back and forth so much now, trying to allow for the tournaments that are, you know, better tournaments so that they are not against each other?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's really up to the player, what he wants to do. If he want to travel back and forth for this. I know the guys over here don't travel. The guy that travels is Tiger. But if you play for so much prize money over here, why do you want to go play over there? That's really what it comes down to.

Q. Have you been a first-round leader before? If it holds up, how do you approach the tee tomorrow, the second round? What have you learned through the years how to maintain that?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, you just got to get out there and try to play your own game. Keep practicing around the course. If I can get another good round tomorrow and be up there for a weekend, give myself a chance for the weekend, I'm looking forward to that.

Q. When do you start looking at the board?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, there are so many of them around. You can't help not seeing them. I don't mind looking at the board. It makes me try to feel what I have to do to catch up or stay ahead.

Q. Have you traveled more to play since you won The Open, and if so, how has your routine changed as far as taking care of your body, making sure that you get enough rest and things like that?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I try and work it out, so I come over here for three weeks and then have a week off then go back there for three weeks. I had a week break in between over here and over there to recover and get over the jet lag. It's not too bad coming over here, flying from Europe to here. Jet lag is pretty easy to get over. It's a little bit worse going the other way.

Q. When you won at BellSouth you came in every day and said, I'm not playing very well, but yet you won?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, I think at the end of the day when you are really putting well. Your putting makes up for a few bad shots, to get it up and down out of bunkers and things like that. So you make a few long putts. There are other days that you hit the ball so good and you hit it inside ten feet every hole, and you can't make a putt. So I figure at the end of the day, the guys that really win the tournament are pretty much the putting leader for the week.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Go over your birdies and bogeys.

RETIEF GOOSEN: 3-wood, sand wedge to about 12 feet.

Q. Then No. 5, par-5?

RETIEF GOOSEN: A driver, 2-iron just to the right of the green, chipped out to about 6 feet.

Q. No. 9?

RETIEF GOOSEN: 9 I hit a 2-iron, 9-iron to about six feet.

Q. And 13?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Driver, 9-iron ten feet.

Q. 14?

RETIEF GOOSEN: 2-iron, wedge, probably the same, ten feet.

Q. And 17?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Driver 7-iron to about 20 feet.

Q. Lone bogey, you weren't able to get up and down from the front bunker what did you it?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I hit a 2-iron off the tee, a pretty good position. I hit a 6-iron slightly and came up short left in a trap then I hit a good bunker shot down to about 15 feet.

Q. The finish here has strengthened by changes at 17, since you never been here you can't comment on those, can you comment about the finish on the last 4 holes of the TOUR?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's great. 17 is a good hole now. You hit in any of those fairway bunkers you pretty much got no chance of getting on to the green. They are very deep and I think if you hit it in there you lay it up. So from what I understand the old hole was pretty much driving a short iron, very straight forward. So the finishing is great. 18 is a very good hole, water down left and it feels likes you have to keep it down to the right and if do you block it you are stuck behind those trees.

Q. Did you know when you are putting well on the front 9 that it's looking good, or are you not that kind of optimist?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I felt good after the first 9. I hit a really good tee shot on No. 10 and hit a 9-iron in there to about 15 feet and lipped out. I felt pretty solid about my game. I kept playing away trying to get a good score out there. There is still a long way to go. It was disappointing with a bogey on 18, but I was real happy with the round.

Q. You said at the beginning you putted well today, you made a lot of putts is what you said, aside from the 6 birdies, was there anything about your putting that you like, the fact that you were reading well or what?

RETIEF GOOSEN: The greens are so good, if you hit it on the right line, it's in. I changed my putter this week I went back to my old YES putter that I won the U.S. Open with a couple of years ago. I thought maybe I should bring some old blood back into the game and see if can I get something going.

Q. What were you putting with?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I used a TaylorMade putter the last couple of weeks. I putted pretty well with it at the Deustche Bank but last week struggled again so I decided for something new this week.

Q. When was the last time that you used that YES putter?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's been a while. I would say it's probably nine months.

Q. Will it make the bag for The Open?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well if I keep playing like this, yes.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Retief, thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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