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August 14, 2001

Retief Goosen


JULIUS MASON: Hello again, ladies and gentlemen. U.S. Open champion, Retief Goosen, joining us in his fifth PGA Championship. Welcome to the Atlanta Athletic Club. If you would not mind giving us your thoughts on the course, and then we'll go to Q&A, please.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, the golf course is perfect condition. It's a really fair golf course. If you're going to play bad, you're going to score bad. If you play well, you're going to score well. It's not like some of the golf courses that we've played where you can end up a good shot and end up bad. If you hit a good shot, you are going to get rewarded for us. In general I have only heard good things about the course and everybody is looking forward to the week.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you, very much. Questions, folks?

Q. How has life changed for you since Tulsa?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's changed a little bit. It's not been too hectic. I think the couple of weeks after the U.S. Open was very busy. I had so many interviews to do and things to do, I could not seen get back to South Africa. But things have calmed down a little bit. I'm a little more recognized out there now when I'm playing golf. I still last week, at the Buick Open, struggled to get into the clubhouse the first few days because I have not received my member's badge yet to get into the clubhouse. I had to have an official get me into the clubhouse. Coming out here, a lot more people know me now. It is a great feeling.

Q. What do you think about the change of the confidence level? And second question is, how is the grouping for day one and day two?

RETIEF GOOSEN: My confidence is obviously a lot better now than it was in the past, knowing that I can play under this sort of pressure and perform well. I'm going to need all the confidence I can get playing in the first two rounds, playing with Tiger and David. It's going to be good experience for me playing with probably the two best players in the world. So it's something to look forward to. It's going to be a great experience. I know I'm going to be hitting first into the greens all the time. I'm looking forward to that. You know, it's going to be mentally a good test for me to see how I can perform under that sort of pressure, playing with those two guys, and all of the gallery that's going to be walking with us, to try and block that out.

Q. Most of us so enjoyed watching you play at the U.S. Open. You seemed so cool and collected, and Ernie Els told me afterwards that this is the Retief we know. By the same token, all of the things you've qualified for with that win, one of which is the PGA Grand Slam of golf, will be your first appearance there. You're going to be basically playing the same three that you are going to play with the first two days. I wonder your thoughts, No. 1, about have you heard enough about the PGA Grand Slam of golf; and, No. 2 are you looking forward to that time in Hawaii, and from what you've told us before, I know you're a good wind player so you really should do well?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, that week we're going to play I hope the wind won't blow at all. I'm going to be playing with Tiger and David these two rounds, so at the end of the year playing against them in the first two days, it's going to be good. It's good for me to play with them now and see how my game match up with them, and confidence-wise if I can keep up with them, it's going to be good for confidence. Playing in the wind, yeah, I've done well in the wind in the past, but I'd rather not play in the wind like everybody else. But I think we're just playing it a little bit more than they do over here in Europe. If it's windy, maybe I'll have a bit of an advantage.

Q. You seem to be now following in the steps of countryman Ernie Els. He's won down there and he's played there quite a bit and I wondered if you will go to him for any information or "What will my mindset be at that time," because now it's back to stroke play. It was match play for a few years and now you are back to stroke play.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I've never played any of those courses, so, you know, we're going to arrive there on a Monday and tee it up and play it straight away, so I'm going to have a little bit of a disadvantage not seeing the golf course. But, you know, sometimes it's a good thing if you have not played a practice round around a course because you don't see where the trouble is. So you can just get down and knock it on the fairways and on the greens and try and put a score together. Now it is going to be a stroke-play event it could be a little bit different in a match-play event. But it's still match play anyway because you have to try to play better than the guy you are playing against.

Q. Retief, do you still feel a little in awe of guys like Tiger and Duval? You have won an Open now; you are a major winner. Do you still kind of find yourself looking up at those guys a little bit?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Oh, definitely. I've got a lot to learn if the game still. There's a lot I still want to do in the game. I'm probably not a long way, but I've still got some way to go to get to the game of Tiger and David. I think all of us have got a long way to go to get to the game of Tiger. Yeah, you always look at the best players in the world and try and learn something. I've got some learning still to do, and, you know, once I can maybe start beating them, then my confidence will be even better. I'm looking forward to the next couple of days and see how I perform playing with them. It is going to be a good experience for me and a good learning time.

Q. Retief, I don't know if you've read a lot of articles since the U.S. Open or paid attention to commentary, but do you feel that you have received enough credit for the amount of good putts that you made through the 72 holes, but also on the Monday finish?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I think it's been pretty positive, most of the articles I've read. It's not been anything negative. You know, it's been -- it was a pity that I had to go and 3-putt on the last hole, but all three of us 3-putted for some reason on that last hole. Just amazing that three players took nine shots to get down. You know, I knew I was playing well, and that's just one of those things that happen in golf. So it didn't really put me off at all coming back the next day. I felt very confident. I knew I was putting well. What happened on the 18th was unfortunate, but, you know, those sort of things are going to happen in the future. Hopefully not to me again, but you are always going to 3-putt. It's just unfortunate it was on the 72nd hole.

Q. If I'm correct, Elkington was quoted as the Presidents Cup saying that you had one of the best swings that he had ever seen and this is a man that typically gets put in the top 5 in terms of classy swings on the Tour. Is there a swing key that you've had throughout the years and any particular reason that you seem to have a very classy and sort of elegant golf swing? Does that stem from anything particular in your youth?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I used to have actually a very long golf swing, like Sergio in a way. Then I started working with Sam Frost, the brother of David Frost, to shorten my swing and get more compact at the top of the swing. Sam has done a good job on that, but we have not worked together now for probably the last three, three and a half years, because I felt like I needed to work on my confidence a bit more. I knew my golf swing was there now. It's just a matter of trusting it. That's why I started working with a psychologist, just to see if I can get the mental side of my game a bit stronger, and it is all starting to fall into place now.

Q. What club are you hitting into 18, and is that hole too long to be a par 4?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, today it wasn't too bad. I know Ernie had a very good drive and I think he hit a 6-iron in, which is not too bad. Yesterday, it was very heavy, the air, and the guys were hitting woods in. I didn't hit a good drive at all, but I still had to hit a 3-iron in. You know, if you're going to hit a good drive down the left side there, you are going to have your 5-iron or so in, which is, I suppose, is fine. I don't think they will probably play it all the way back on the back tee. They played it sort of on the front half of the back tee, which is fair. There is no roll out on the fairways, which I think is why it plays so long. If it was a bit firmer, the fairway, I don't think it would be such a long hole.

Q. Do you find it a little unusual to be in this pairing the first two days, to be in the group, a major winner, with Tiger Woods and David Duval? Does that still seem unusual to you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I knew it was coming. I knew this is like a thing they always do at the PGA. They put the three major winners. I knew what was coming. I knew that I was going to play with him. It's great. You know, if I'm going to play more in America, I'm going to have to play with them more. So it's good that I play with them. Sometimes a little bit of added pressure brings the better game out of my golf, so I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be good. You know, I like the course. The course is well set up. It's going to be good fun.

Q. Those that saw you at the Open were impressed with how calm were you. Were you that way earlier in your career?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I used to have a bit of a temper in my younger days or junior golf days. I remember once breaking three clubs in nine holes. I did have my ups and downs as a junior, but I've slowly, over the last three years now, learned to be a lot calmer on the course and just try and block out all the negative things that's happened and look forward to what's coming up. I'm a lot more relaxed, and, of course, in that way, not worrying too much about things coming up or what's happened. Trying to enjoy the game a bit more, and I think that's why I'm starting to play better because I'm just trying to enjoy it. If I play bad, it's not the end of the world. I'm not trying to make golf the No. 1 thing in my life. I try and enjoy other things, as well.

Q. Retief, a couple of guys have come in saying that they think the course clearly favors a longer hitter. If you are not among the very longest, does that affect how you approach this week and do you agree with their assessment?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I'm not as long a hitter as I used to be, but I'm still only about 40 yards behind Tiger. I think the course is actually the perfect setup Tiger this week. I think he's smiling all the way. Most of the troubles are around about 290 yards, and he flies it 300 or 310. I think he's very happy with the way they have gone about setting the course up, making it very long, because he knows it favors him and the rest of the guys are going to have to hit 5-irons into the greens while he's hitting 8-iron.

Q. How about for yourself?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I'll be one of the guys hitting 5-irons into the greens. I mean, the main key is you've got to hit it on the fairways. The rough doesn't appear very thick, but when you go into the bermuda, it just goes right to the bottom and you cannot get it to the green. You can hit it out there 300 yards, but if you don't hit it on the fairways you are going to struggle to get it on the green. Some of the holes are really long. We have only got two holes under 400 yards. It's definitely one of the longest courses we are going to play.

Q. As major championships go, could you compare the atmosphere of a U.S. Open with playing here or playing in the Masters or British Open; is it different?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I think all four of them have a different atmosphere. Masters, for what it is. It's always at the same course and the tradition there I think makes it unique. Then you've got the U.S. Open, that, you know, has got an 18-hole playoff, which makes it unique. Then the PGA doesn't have an 18-hole playoff; it just moves from tournament to tournament. And the British Open is just for the links courses we play. I think all of them has got a different sort of atmosphere. They are not all the same. I think that's what makes them the four biggest tournaments there is.

Q. Is the U.S. Open more pressurized than the others?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I think all four of them are equal. I don't think you can put them ahead of the others. They all are really tough to win, and, you know, it's just the best player at the end of the week is going to win it.

Q. You said a few minutes ago that golf was not the only thing in your life. What are the other important things in your life?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I try and enjoy other things more. A few more holidays here and there. My wife. You know, I don't take golf as serious as I used to take it. When I go out on the course, I try and enjoy it a bit more and try and not be as serious as I was in the past and get upset with myself when I am playing bad. For some reason, it's actually improved my golf. I still practice hard and work at it like any other guy, but I'm just trying to be a bit more relaxing on the course. I think that's what's changed.

Q. How important do you think having Josh work with you -- inaudible -- with Ernie and Michael Campbell who is going to pick up the hotel tab this week?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Probably the guy that wins the week. Josh, it's interesting how many guys are working with him now, Darren Clarke. And I understand now Ernie wants to have a word with him. I think a lot of players are now realizing that the mental side of the game is very important, like Seve used to say, it's 70 percent of the game. Tiger has always had a psychologist, in a way, working with him. We just didn't realize his dad was there from a young age, was sort of his psychologist. Tiger's probably the most confident sports person out there. Of course, his mental side is strong. Not only does he hit it so well, but we all know how mentally strong he is and a lot of players don't realize how important it is.

JULIUS MASON: Questions, questions twice. Thank you very much, Retief.

End of FastScripts...

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