April 1, 2003
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome Retief Goosen, defending champion of the BellSouth Classic. Obviously, after winning here last year, the week after you played well at Masters; it must have been good preparation for playing the Masters?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it's great to be back here. This golf course, I like it, and I personally think it's great preparation for next week. Although next week is for me more important than this week, you know, this week is an important week for me and I would like to do well and try to defend my title. Last year I was here I played very well, putted very well this week going into Augusta. And this week, my game, I'm not really playing all that great at the moment, but things feel like they are getting a little bit better after maybe a month's break I had before last week.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: What specifically are the things you think you need to work on to get where you want to go?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I think my iron play is not quite as good as I would like it to be. I feel like I'm driving the ball pretty well, but I'm just not getting it anywhere near the flag and leaving myself some difficult putts. So just need to get my iron play a little bit more at the flag.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Talk a little about the golf course. Greg Norman described this course and I've read several times it's one of his personal favorites in the United States as far as his design work goes. Can you talk about the golf course and how it suits your game?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I think any golf course Greg designs will be a great course. He has lot of experience. Like I say, this one has got a bit of everything. It's got a feel of Augusta and it has got a feel of some really tough holes as well. It's a really good course and I enjoy it. I'm sure everyone coming here and playing it really enjoys it, as well.
RETIEF GOOSEN: This morning, I just hit some balls for a few hours on the range this morning to try and loosen up. I'll play the course tomorrow. Apparently it sounds like it's in great shape. Hopefully the weather will keep up, as well. So I'm looking forward to the week.
Q. Why don't you talk about the bump-and-run game and how important that plays here?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, definitely. I think the size of the greens, the ball is always running away from the greens so you have to play a lot of bump-and-run shots or a lot of high lob shots. That's why I think it's good preparation for next week. At Augusta, you have a lot of those sort of shots, as well, that you have to play. You know, it's a tough course and it can get pretty windy around here.
Q. The past two years year, the weather has not been ideal, how much if it holds up this will week that help you as far as getting ready to play next week?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, we hope that we have a good week. I think BellSouth is about due for a good year. Yeah, it would be nice to see the course really hard and fast. I've always played here being really cold and pretty wet. So it would be nice to have a different week for a change.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it's now coming up a month or so ago, we had the baby and I suppose last week just being here by myself, I've had some sleep. She's still back home doing her thing now but I look forward to going back after Augusta and having another three-week break and being with the kids.
Q. Any changes schedule-wise for you this year?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I've definitely cut back on my schedule. I'm just playing 15 events in the U.S., the same as last year, and I'm definitely cutting back on the European Tour, as well. I'm trying to find some more time for the family.
Q. Can you talk a little bit more about the similarities you see between this course and Augusta?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I think it really comes around the greens. I think that's are where it's quite similar. The greens are very slopey and very fast, and if you miss it in the wrong side, you're going to have a really tough chip or bump-and-run. So I think those sort of shots, you have a lot around there that you are going to get at Augusta, some really difficult bunker shots or some really fast downhill putts and things like that, that you can really get your game tuned for next week.
Q. Would you go so far to say there's a particular hole that maybe reminds you of anything out there that you see next week?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It's not so much holes that's very similar, but it sort of gives you the feel, the up-and-down of the course, just the way it sets up, the course. It's very similar to next week.
Q. Will you do anything different going into Augusta from last year?
RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I'll do it the same, probably two practice rounds. I don't know if they have made any more changes at Augusta. I hear there's a chance that a couple of holes that have changed again so those are things you need to look at. I won't change anything. Obviously, around Augusta you have to putt really well, like any golf course, I suppose, and keep it below the hole, that's the main thing.
Q. The European PGA TOUR and the U.S. PGA TOUR, what's the difference between the two tours?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I would say weather-wise, that's the biggest difference. Over here, there's a lot more sunshine than back in Europe. Obviously the prize money is the biggest thing. The European Tour is catching up quickly. We are starting to play a lot of really good golf courses and a lot of the designers that used to design golf courses over here are designing courses now in Europe. We are starting to play more and more American-style courses and tougher courses. You know, it's starting to show, the guys are starting to really play well over there and it's really tough to win. The depth of the fields are getting so strong now.
Q. As far as the organization, which difference does it make for you players, the U.S. PGA TOUR, organization, the parking lot, everything -- inaudible -- is there a big difference?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, the biggest difference is obviously what we play for, the prize money between here and Europe. Obviously, over here, it's a lot easier to run tournaments because you are in the same country the whole time, while in Europe you have different countries and different cultures. So it's a lot more difficult to set up each week the same as the next week. So, it's not that easy. But like I said, we are catching up quickly now and we are playing courses now that, really, week-in and week-out, are good golf courses to play on.
Q. Your schedule, you mentioned cutting back this year a little bit. You won the Volvo Order of Merit last year; are you going to cut back your European schedule or U.S. schedule?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I want to play enough events this year definitely in Europe to give myself a chance of defending the Order of Merit over there. I always would like to go back and like to keep playing on the European Tour and keep supporting the Tour over there. I'm not quite sure how my schedule would be next year. I'll probably divide the two again as I've done over the last few years.
Q. An Augusta question. Each year this tournament, in preparation for Augusta, do you have a preference, because you're defending champ, is it advantageous or not whether you play the week before to get ready for an event like Augusta?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Even if I wasn't defending champion here this week, I would have come back and played here. For me personally, I like going to a major playing rather than just practicing. I feel a bit more comfortable going into a major feeling like I've played a bit of golf the week before and get some sort of feel going for how to get around a course.
Q. When do you begin your preparations for a specific major? Will you practice this week a little bit with just Augusta in mind, playing certain shots, or a couple weeks before?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Definitely around the chipping greens area, yeah, I try to play sort of similar shots I might encounter at Augusta. And even around the course, you're going to have shots like you can get over there. So, yeah, you try to work your way around and try and imagine some shots that you will possibly play over there and that you would like to try to practice.
Q. Does the weather maybe make a difference as far as how the greens are playing so forth and how you try to prepare; if you get better conditions here, will that probably be a better thing overall?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, we hope for better conditions. Although, Augusta is also known to have its fair share of rain. I remember last year was pretty soggy. If we get two dry weeks for a change -- and I've never really played Augusta in very firm conditions. It's always been pretty wet.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: It is several months down the, road but the Presidents Cup will be held in South Africa this year. Could we get a couple comments from you just being from South Africa and just your feelings on playing in your home country this year?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it will be great. I think it's going to be great for golf down there, especially junior golf. We've got great weather down in South Africa and junior golf is not really at such a high standard as it should be. I think the Presidents Cup coming over there is going to really psyche everybody up to try and help with junior golf development over there. I don't live in South Africa, really, anymore, so I don't go back there much. But from what I've heard from my brothers, everybody can't wait for it come around. It's probably going to be the biggest sporting event to hit South Africa for a long time, maybe the World Cup, rubgy, a few years ago was a great thing for South Africa. Definitely, Presidents Cup, everybody can't wait.
Q. Going back to last year here for a moment, the last round, I think you dropped a stroke on the first hole and then you dropped a stroke on the second , at what point in the last round did you feel like the turning point it was yours, the tournament was yours?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I thought I had a pretty good chance standing on the first tee. But got on the third tee, I was suddenly like one behind or something. I think the chip-in on the fifth hole for eagle, or was it the fourth -- fourth hole, yeah, for eagle, really got me ahead again. And then Phil I think made a couple of bogeys coming in to 8 and 9 somewhere around there. So I think after I birdied the 11th, 12th, I felt sort of, "I should just hang in there now and I'm going to pull it off." Obviously, I made a few more good putts coming in.
Q. What is it about this course that suits you ? What is it about this course that matches up well with the way you play?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, you know, some spots, the rough is not really high. I just like the way it sets up to my eye and the way I see the shots around. I love the greens. I seem to read the greens very well and that's where you make your scoring is making a lot of putts.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, you've definitely got to put yourself on the right side of the flag because some of the greens are very slopey and you can struggle with your putts if you are on the wrong side.
Q. You've won a handful of times now on the Tour, how do you like coming back to a same course as defending champion?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It's always great coming back to a course where you've won. It sort boosts you a little bit and your confidence feels high. You know the course so well that you know how to play around it well. I'm looking forward to the week and hopefully I can pull it off again.
Q. A lot of walking --
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah a few holes that you get some really good exercise on, yeah. That's part of the game.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you very much.
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