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April 13, 2002

Retief Goosen


RON TOWNSEND: Good afternoon. It's our pleasure to welcome Retief Goosen. Retief shot 69 today, 3-under par.

Would you like to make a few comments about your round before we take questions.

RETIEF GOOSEN: My round started out nicely. I had a nice 25-footer or so on the first hole. So, I mean starting any round with three birdies is quite comfortable and makes you feel a little bit more relaxed. I made a few good up-and-downs on some of the holes, No. 4 and 9.

So overall, I'm pretty happy. A couple of 3-putts today, but due to poor iron play and left myself very difficult putts.

Struggled a little bit with my irons today and didn't quite hit it as nicely as I would have liked to. Overall, I'm very happy with the round. Anything in the 60s around here is a good score.

Q. Have you been paired up with Tiger before in a tournament, and if so, who won?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I played with Tiger in a Presidents Cup, once with Vijay, actually. I played with Tiger a couple of times, but I can't really remember where else I played with him.

Q. I think you played with him the first two rounds of the PGA last year, did you not?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, that's right. Yeah.

Q. And I think you played a stroke better than him in those two rounds; you didn't remember it, but -- do you get any confidence from being able to do that as recently as that in that kind of setting?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I enjoy playing with Tiger. He's a nice guy. I'm just going to go out there and try and focus on my own game, try and ignore that I'm playing with him, just play my own game and see what happens.

Obviously it's going to be difficult to totally block out everything out that will go on there tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to the rounds. It's going to be great fun. It's nice to be in that position to have a chance, to see if I can win it tomorrow.

Q. Given the way you've played since the Open last year, you could make a case for being the hottest player in the world. Do you look at that and say that you have a proven track record in majors and big tournaments?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, I know that I can play now under this sort of pressure.

It's going to be tough, like I say. You know, any final round in a major is difficult. I mean, it's going to be difficult for Tiger, as well. He's also got to go out there and do his thing, and there's a few other players that have still got a chance. It's going to be an exciting day tomorrow.

Q. How much do you draw from the 18-hole playoff from the Open?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, that was a little bit different. There's only one guy you had to beat. This time, there's still a few guys with a chance.

Yeah, playing with Tiger, that has won around here twice and done so well in the past, you know he knows the course so well. I haven't really done well here in the past, so tomorrow is going to be something new for me, but just try and stick to my game plan and see if I can make a few more putts.

Q. You just mentioned making a few more putts, but you seem like you made quite a few today. Were you as comfortable on the greens as you appeared to be?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I've been reading the greens quite nicely, me and my caddie. I seem to see the lines pretty good on the greens. They are similar to last week in Atlanta, so I learned a little bit from there.

Still, I had two 3-putts today, which was a little bit unfortunate. I enjoy the greens. The greens are in great condition.

Q. Did you have any problems with mud on the ball? Everybody has been talking, how it skirted balls off.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I had a few today, especially on No. 8 where I tried to lay up with a 2-iron and the ball ended up going 20 yards left into the trees. So that was probably the worst one. Otherwise, you get mud on the ball -- everybody is going to get that. I guess the fairways are drying out a little bit more and you get more mud. Being very wet this morning, it seemed to wash off when it hits the fairway.

Yeah, that could really be a deciding thing tomorrow, as well. You hit a good drive down the middle of the fairway and you've got a ball that cuts 15 yards on you.

Q. Have you received much mail and response from fans, talking about how you were able to come back from that 3-putt in the Open last year and win it? Have people responded directly to you at all?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I get a bit of mail in my locker room every week, fans that would like me to sign things. Yeah, I've gotten good support. It's been a great 10, 11 months for me and I've really enjoyed everything that's happened in the last 10 months.

Q. It almost sounds like you feel like you have nothing to lose tomorrow because most people expect Tiger to win. Does that change your approach at all and the way you play this golf course?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, not at all. Tiger, he's going to be the guy to beat. But I'm going to play the course the way I've been playing it. I can't hit it the way Tiger hits it; I'm going to be 30 yards behind him tomorrow. I'm just going to have to really try and get it in there close and try and put pressure on him.

It's not just go out and try and take chances, no. I'll play the course as well as I can play it.

Q. How can we tell when you're really excited? (Laughter.)

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I'll get excited tomorrow if I win it, yeah. (Laughs).

Q. I can't remember, I know I read something about how you were scheduled to meet with the President of South Africa, and I can't remember whether you ever did.

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I never managed to get around to have dinner with him. But I met Nelson Mandela a couple of times, but he's phoned me twice, the President and congratulated on what I've done.

Q. Have you spoken with your sports psychologist this week, and if so, what advice does he have?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, he's been here the whole week. We've seen each other. We haven't really done anything different this week than what we normally do.

What we do off the course me and him, it's really our secret. (Smiles).

Q. When is the first time you became aware of this tournament when you were growing up in South Africa? What was the first Masters that you were aware of?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I think, really, the first one I watched somebody win I think was Ben Crenshaw when he won his first one, which is quite some time ago now, I think.

Q. Can you talk about how 18 is playing, and facing it tomorrow?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, 18 is playing long. It was driver, 5-iron this morning when I finished the second round off. And today I cut it into the trees and had to chip out.

Yeah, it's a totally different hole. It's really the way it should play now, I think, for being the last hole on a course.

Q. You said that blocking everything out with Tiger would be one of the things you have to do. When he's elsewhere on the course, a couple of holes away and you look at the leaderboard and he's climbing up or you hear a roar, is that difficult to block out?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I didn't really hear any roars today, but there are scoreboards on every hole, so it's quite difficult not to see what's going on.

I don't mind looking at the scoreboards. It gives me some sort of idea on what I have to do.

Q. You obviously are very placid. Did you have the perfect temperament to deal with what may happen tomorrow?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I would hope so. (Laughter.) Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel a little more refreshed, pretty tired now, I've been up since 5:30. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. But I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully the rain stays away.

Q. Last week at this time, you were in the press room talking about how you were not playing very well, yet you were leading the tournament, and then on Sunday, you continued to say how you were not playing very well and then you blew away the field. How do you feel today in regards to your game, and do you have -- worked out the timing issues, the things like that, that you didn't work out last week?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I still hit a lot of bad iron shots out there today. But I'm getting it around the course. I know when I'm hitting it really well and when I'm not hitting it really well. I know I'm still not spot on, but today, like I say, a lot of poor iron shots, so hopefully, I can work on something tomorrow morning just to get that around.

Q. You were here as early as anyone else and you're staying later and you say you're tired; what is tired, legs? Mind?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Everything. I think I played 24 holes today. It's difficult walking on the course, you're walking sideways, here and there and trying to avoid all the mud. It's very heavy on your feet.

Q. Did you have an inkling before last year's U.S. Open that your career was going to explode the way it has?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I think every professional out there hopes that that happens to his game one day, and, you know, it's happened to my game now. I was the lucky guy. (Smiles).

We all work for that. You hope that one day everything starts falling together, and at the moment, that's happening for me.

Q. With the galleries and everything that surrounds Tiger in a tournament, is it easier to play with him on a Sunday like this, as opposed to being in a group ahead of him or a group behind him?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it can be difficult being the group in front of him, with everybody rushing up to the greens.

Both I think are difficult, playing with him and in front of him. Behind him I don't think really is that much of a problem.

RON TOWNSEND: Thank you all very much. Retief, good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts....

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