March 25, 2003
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: I'd like to thank Retief Goosen for coming in. Can we get some opening comments from you about playing in THE PLAYERS Championship this week? It's a start of a big stretch of tournaments to you. You're going to defend your title at the BellSouth Classic and obviously the Masters after that, but this is a big week for you if you can just talk about it.
RETIEF GOOSEN: I would like to play a little bit better than I've done in the past year. It's a good course and when you play it you'll be up there. I've just unfortunately not played my best around here and been struggling a little bit in the last few years, so I'm looking forward to a good week for a change.
Q. You made the cut last year here for the first time. Just talk about what you've seen on the course and how it's playing so far.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, the course is in good condition, played it this morning. Rough is obviously high and the greens are actually quite firm despite all the rain they've had. The fairways in places are a little bit thin but in general the course is in very good condition.
Q. Retief, Ernie said you guys had the baby but didn't know much about the detail. I think he said Leo was the name. I was wondering when it came and how it feels to be big daddy.
RETIEF GOOSEN: I've had a good break now, which has been nice. He came about 16 days ago now, 17 days ago now the baby came. Yeah, Leo, a boy. It's been good. It's nice to be back out there and getting some sleep at night, but no, it's been a great experience and everything is fine with my wife, so things went very smooth.
Q. I ran into Jos the other day and I know you did some work with him and you guys parted ways. What was your first meeting with him like? I've heard he tends to put things and use language that most players haven't heard before, and if you could sort of recount that meeting and then explain briefly why it worked for a while and then didn't.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, me and Jos worked together for more than three years. He helped me out of a problem I was in and I felt like he's really done what I hired him to do, and that's why I decided to have a break from him for - it's probably now coming six months or so we've had a break I'm sure eventually I'll get back to him, but at the moment I feel like he's really helped me a lot and to get me where I am. He's done what I asked him to do. He can get a bit wound up sometimes, but he gets -- maybe what he does is he gets the players to wake up a little bit and see a little bit past their problem. He gets very involved with the player and probably his emotions sometimes probably gets a little bit over the top. He's a small Belgian guy and he has a bit of a good temper on him himself, but he's helped a lot of players improve their game.
Q. Can you analyze at all why you haven't played well here in the past? Is it something about the golf course? I mean, you came off of last year and next week you win, so is there something here that just doesn't suit your eye?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't know. For some reason it's a course I can't really get comfortable on. The course is really good and you've got to just play well around it, but I've really been struggling in the past just finding my game this week. Hopefully this week I can't help but remember I've had three weeks off now and I've played one round of golf, so my game is very rusted but hopefully by Thursday I can get something going. I played pretty well so far this year, so hopefully I can get back into the swing of things quickly this week.
Q. Where did you play the round?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It was last week back in the UK.
Q. With Ernie Els withdrawing you're now the top international player. Do you want to come out and find of -- do you like that, that you can come out and kind of represent the international somewhat?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's a pity Ernie couldn't make it this week. I know he's got a bit of a wrist problem. There's so many good international players in the field. Obviously I'm now the highest ranked South African in the field, so it would be nice if I could keep the flag up high a little bit this week.
Q. Retief, those courses like Sugarloaf and Augusta National, you say they fit your eye a little bit. Do you feel you can open up a little bit better in a bigger place like that as opposed to a target course like this?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I suppose BellSouth and Augusta is a bit of a different setup than this. There's really thick rough they have over here this week. You sometimes can hit it a bit off line and get away with it. Augusta has changed so much with the lengthening of tees and trees they've brought in and things like that, so it's really becoming quite a target course. You have to really drive it straight and obviously hitting greens is a big problem.
For some reason it does too fit my eye a little bit better than this, but hopefully this week I can find something that I can see down the fairways and get a good score going.
Q. Both you and Ernie were criticized a little bit for not making a move kind of on Tiger last year at Augusta and making a move is difficult when he's playing like that. Is there anything different you would have done on the back nine last year if you had to do it over?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I would have liked to hit better iron shots on the front nine, that's the main thing. I know I was struggling with my iron play the whole week, and whenever I missed the green I got it up and down and holed a few good putts in the first round, and Sunday in the first few holes I hit myself in places where it was really impossible to two-putt from. That sort of got me behind very quickly early on, so I never really got anything going early in the back nine to give myself a chance of putting some pressure on him, and by the time we really walked down 15 or going into 16, it was really all over. I tried to hang in there and see if I could finish second, which was nice to at least finish second.
Q. Retief, over the last week or so we've heard a lot of athletes talk about keeping perspective in light of what's going on in the world. What do you feel like the role of golf or sports is in the world at a time like this?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Unfortunately it's sad what's going on on the other side of the planet. It's something nobody really wanted, but I think in a way I personally feel that something has to be done now about it. Four years from now it could be worse if you don't do something now. You know, we all feel for the soldiers out there and we hope they get it over and done with pretty quick. Then again, you know, the tournament is going on, it's good. It shows the rest of the world that life carries on despite what's going on with all these problems that we have.
Q. Retief, I don't remember exactly what day it was it rained at Augusta last year. Presumably you must have gotten in some play when it was wet and some play when it was dry. Could you talk about the difference between how it played before and after because if it's dry this year it's almost going to be like playing it the third different way in the three years, there's the old way, last year's way wet and this year's way dry?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah. I think that Monday some of the guy played practice rounds before the rain and they said the greens were impossible, and then the rain came and it was nearly impossible to keep it on the green from spinning off the green. It will be nice to play the course finally the way it's supposed to be, quite dry, and the greens pretty firm, because I have not played that course yet when it's been dry. I hope the course is going to be good. I know that they've had a pretty tough winter, I think, so hopefully they got enough growth on some of the fairways.
Q. Retief, are you happy while we're talking about Augusta with the way that Hootie Johnson and the club has publicly handled the controversy or pleased with the way they've handled it?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's not really something I want to get into. Every club has its rules and the way they want it to be. Augusta is probably not the only male-only club in the world, so that's the way they chose it to be, that's the way it's been, just keep it for themselves, so it's really not anything I want to get into.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you, Retief.
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