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June 18, 2001

Retief Goosen


RAND JERRIS: It's a distinct pleasure to introduce the 2001 United States Open Champion, Retief Goosen. Congratulations on your fine play today. An even par round of 70. Perhaps you can tell us in a few words what your thoughts were over night and how you prepared yourself mentally for today's round.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yesterday, unfortunately, what happened, you know, was tough. But I knew that I didn't play bad. If it happened on the 17th hole it wouldn't have been that bad, but it happened on 18. But, you know, I just told myself that that day was gone. Today is a new day, and I'm not playing bad. I didn't play bad, at all. So I was looking forward to today, because I knew I was playing pretty well. And I was putting well. But I slept good last night. I went to sleep about 11, and woke up at 8. So I came here quite calm, quite relaxed and ready for the day. I knew I had a 50 percent chance of winning it and Mark was playing well, obviously, so I knew it was going to be a tough day.

RAND JERRIS: You have a copy of your scorecard in front of you. Perhaps you could walk through your birdies and bogeys for us, please.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, on 6 Mark hit his 8-iron a little right of the hole. So I told myself, the greens are a little bit softer today than they were yesterday. So I tried to go a little bit more at the flag and hit a perfect 8-iron to six feet and made a good putt. I got on the next tee and hit a 3-iron onto the fairway and Mark missed the fairway. And I picked up another shot there. And very good bunker shot on No. 8 -- actually I had a very good tee shot, I thought it was going to be right next to the hole, but it just caught the lip of the bunker. And then where the tournament changed was at 9 and 10, the two birdies I made there, and Mark made two bogeys. So that was really a turning point. From there on I was just trying to keep my head down and stay cool and just play the course, just try and get out with pars.

Q. Retief, after what happened yesterday on 18, you came out and 1-putted eight of the first ten holes today. Explain how you can do something like that, for those of us who probably would have lost a little confidence in their putter.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, and like I said, the putts I hit on 18 yesterday wasn't bad putts. I hit the first putt maybe just too hard. I hit the second putt the way I wanted to, it just broke the wrong way and I missed that. So I came out here today knowing that I'm not playing that bad, and I'm pretty proud of what I've done so far. I'm going to give it everything I've got. And Greg has helped me a lot with the reading of the greens today and the whole week. So it's great to make a few good putts. Obviously, the greens were in a lot better condition today than they were yesterday, being the last group out. The greens were just absolutely perfect. If you hit the right line, it just goes in.

Q. Retief, even though you said earlier that you didn't watch any golf-related TV last night, were you aware that people were comparing with what happened to you at 18 yesterday to some of the great misadventures in golf history, if you were aware of that how did you block that out?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I'm sure what happened yesterday was probably one of the good things that happened in golf. Yeah, I know now what Jean Van de Velde went through at Carnoustie. You play so well for 71 holes and then suddenly on one hole you can lose -- you lose the tournament. And that's how golf is. You play the whole week and it all comes down to one shot at the end of the day. But I was just trying to put that behind me. I had a good conversation with Jos last night. And he told me, you know, today is gone, it will never come back and tomorrow is a new day and you're going to just go out there and play your best.

Q. Retief, congratulations on the victory. Sort of a follow-up to the question you were answering before. I'm wondering, in realizing what people were saying about this, could you find, now that you've won, any humor in all of the misadventures yesterday on the 18th green, now that it has a happy ending?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yesterday was quite funny, actually (laughter.) I sort of laughed to myself when I missed that short putt to win. I can't believe what just happened. But the third putt was tougher than the second putt. But what can I say, it's been a great week. It's been a pressure week for me, since day one. So I've learned a lot about myself this week, and know that I can handle a little bit of pressure. I've always had a little bit of -- not enough self-confidence in myself. And I think this week is really -- I've shot myself something, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the big events coming up now.

Q. Retief, I was just wondering, did you have any feeling this morning that you needed to redeem yourself?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, I felt like maybe I needed to win this today somehow, from what happened yesterday. But it's just a game. It's not a life and death situation. There's a lot of people out there that's worse off than me. And I wasn't going to look at it like, if I don't win today it's the end of the world. I did win today and it's a great feeling to be here. I've run out of words, really, what to say. A lot of things are going to change in my life now, but that happens when you win these sort of tournaments. And I'm looking forward to what's coming up.

Q. Retief, this all requires a great deal of mental strength, what you just went through, to come back. To what do you attribute your resilience, your mental strength, things that happened in your life or your past or just the past few days?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I think besides what happened yesterday I've learned a lot about myself out there yesterday. I was more nervous yesterday than I was today. Yesterday I've learned that I can actually play under this pressure, and I came out today knowing that I can hang in there and maybe win this. And it just turned out my way. And Mark had a great start, and I just tried to hang in. I told myself the tough holes are still coming. I've worked a lot with my psychologist, Jos, and I've always knew my swing is good. There's still a few problems in it, but on the mental side of my game has never been that great. And we've worked together now for two and a half years and it looks like it's paying off.

Q. What's his name?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Jos Vanstiphout.

Q. Retief, the U.S. Open is the last tournament that doesn't have either a four hole or sudden death playoff when the event ends, it has the 18 hole playoff. Had you had to play yesterday, do you think you could have gone onto the first hole after the 3-putt and been as resilient or did the staying away overnight and coming back prove to be a great advantage?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Maybe I think it -- staying overnight was maybe a bit of an advantage. I think we were all a bit shaken up what happened yesterday on 18. Mark making bogey, Stewart Cink making six and me making five. So I think it sort of gave me a chance just to relax and reflect on what happened and just give myself a lot of confident talk that it's not all that bad. So maybe the 18 holes today, I think from what I've learned in the Dunhill Cup, I felt like I had maybe a bit of an advantage.

Q. Retief, we understand Ernie and Nick Faldo had talked to you between last night and this morning's round. Could you share us a little of what they had to say and what it meant to have those guys talk to you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, Nick left a message on my phone last night. He just said, well, he just saw what happened, and it's happened to him and I've just got to keep my head down and play hard. He said, "You're playing well, and you're putting well, and just the best of luck." Ernie rung me this morning at about 8:30. He sounded fast asleep, still, like he normally is (laughter.) And he just said, "Go out there and do it". It's going to be tough, because he's done it, he's won his first U.S. Open in an 18-hole playoff. And just play the game, try and play the course more than you would play the player, but be aware of what he's doing. And he just gave me a bit of a confidence boost.

Q. Retief, before obviously your -- before this, do you agree with that system, do you like the 18 hole playoff?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I do now (laughter.) You know, it's the only tournament I think that's got an 18-hole playoff. So I think -- I agree with it. I think that's the way it should be. Everybody has to work overtime, though, but it's unique to have that. So it's a good thing, yeah.

Q. Retief, did your wife have any words to add to the advice you got from Faldo and Ernie?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I've spoken to her every day. And I've spoken to her this morning. And she just told me, "You've done great so far and just keep it up." I mean everybody back home is so proud and we've had so many phone calls and faxes and e-mails. She's disappointed that she's not here this week, but I haven't spoken to her yet, actually. But I will do that as soon as I'm done here. Apparently there's a lot of people that's just come around to congratulate on what's happened.

Q. What's her name?


Q. How long have you been married?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Two months we've been married, but we've been together for eight years.

Q. Could you walk us through the 18th, your decision to play the putter instead of to chip that and really what was going through your mind after you left the first putt so short?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I hit a good driver, I hit a bit of a downhill hanging lie, and I came off the 5-iron a little bit -- as soon as I hit it I knew it was going to be short. But the way it ran down to a lot of the guys earlier in the week practiced from, so it was quite sandy there where they filled up the divots. And the last thing I wanted to do is chunk it and still leave it short. So I decided to just -- I think this is the safest play, what I was thinking was making five. And I just knocked it up in the middle of the green. The first putt I wasn't going to race past again, so I left it short. But from there on I knew, this time I've got it in the bag, and I was confident over the second putt and hit a very good putt.

Q. Retief, I know you're a pretty understated fellow, but can you put in words how good it felt when the putt went in on 18 today?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it was a great relief. Sometimes you stand over a shot and you still can't believe you're standing there playing for the U.S. Open. It feels funny. It feels like the other golf tournaments I've won. But just with that little bit of extra pressure, you know. When the putt went in, it was a great relief. I was -- I was in a way a little bit shocked that I won it, but I played hard for it this week or the last 36 holes, and I'm very happy.

Q. Retief, you had a top-10 finish at Carnoustie a couple of years ago. Are you the kind of golfer that thrives or more difficult golf courses?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I've won on tough courses, but Carnoustie was totally different. I think I was 11-over par to finish 10th. Yeah, that course is -- we saw what happened to Jean on the last hole -- this course this week, I really expected Tiger to play very well. I felt when I first played my first practice round, it wasn't -- it's not one of the longest U.S. Open courses we've played and I really thought he was going to be doing very well. But it suited my game this week and it's nice to be on top.

Q. Two questions, please. Can you spell your coach's name, Jos?

RETIEF GOOSEN: J-o-s, surname, V-a-n-s-t-i-p-h-o-u-t.

Q. And also growing up in South Africa, what are your first memories of the U.S. Open?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Very little. I didn't see a lot of the U.S. Open on TV. I think probably the first U.S. Open I saw somebody win was Andy North. So I don't know what year that was, but -- so that's about the first time I really saw somebody win the U.S. Open.

Q. When did you talk to Jos, was it in the locker room after the putt last night or was it in the hotel?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, at the hotel last night, and we had a little chat this morning, as well.

Q. Retief, did you practice any more on your putting before the round than you normally do and while you were making all those one putts on the front nine were the events of the 18th hole the day before truly out of your mind?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I just went back home last night, I didn't do any extra practicing.

Q. What about this morning?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, this morning I just did my normal routine. I was on the practice tee 50 minutes before my tee off time. Hit my normal amount of balls and my normal putts and a couple of chips and off I went. What happened yesterday on 18 is, like I say, I didn't feel like I putted all that bad. So there was nothing to work on, really.

Q. And when you were making the 1-putts on the front, especially the tough one for par, were the events of 18 out of your mind at that point?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, no, it was. I wasn't thinking about that at all playing the whole round.

Q. Retief, can you go over the pronunciation of your last name, since we've heard several versions of it this week?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, a lot of people are trying to say it like you were South Africans. But I think the easiest way for everybody is just Goosen. I think that's the easiest. A lot of my friends call me Goose. So it's the easiest way for everybody to say it. And I think -- South Africans in South Africa, the English speaking South Africans say Goosen, as well.

Q. How many times since last evening have you seen a replay of the missed par-putt, even by accident?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I didn't see the missed putt at all since yesterday.

Q. Retief, just wondering about your temperament on the golf course, obviously, you have a very easy manner, calm style of playing. Where does that come from and how much do you think that helps you when you're out on the course sometimes when you find yourself in trouble and you have to scramble out?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I was definitely nervous out there. I might not look like it. I don't know what it looks like. Ernie looks the same around the course. He just walks around, but I'm sure on the inside he's nervous, as well. But I think if you try and act calm then it might just help you mentally-wise to be calm, instead of trying to jump around. I was just trying to really relax myself and think to relax my muscles.

Q. I noticed on No. 9 that you never took a look over where Mark's ball was until almost you had to stop, because Mark was about ready to hit. Was that something you did on purpose, you didn't want to see where he was at, you just wanted to concentrate on your game?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I probably had to walk forward about 50 yards to see where he was. I knew he had probably a pretty good chance to get it on the green from there, because it was pretty worn there where everybody has walked. I hit a good little 7-iron in there. It's the only one I've walked up about 40 yards, I could see past the crowds, that it was up against the tree. But it still looked like he probably had a swing to get it on the green. But he caught it fat and stayed in the rough.

Q. Retief, did Ernie winning the Open twice kind of inspire you to come here and enter and did he suggest that maybe this tournament might be a good one for you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, you know, I remember the first time when he won, when he needed par on the last hole to win and he made 5. So I just told myself, you know, if he could have got through it, then I can get through it. So Ernie rung me this morning, and it was very nice to ring me and give me some advice.

Q. I meant years ago, after he won here. Because you didn't play it when he won, right?


Q. Did his winning prompt you to come here to play?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I'm not quite sure what you mean on that.

Q. Well, did -- the fact that Ernie won, a South African, like yourself, and you know him so well, did you think that if he won it, maybe you could win it here?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, I didn't come here really thinking that I had a very good chance of winning. But after a couple of practice rounds, I played one practice round with Nick Price, and he won on this course, and he told me a few bits and pieces about this course. I knew -- I sort of had a feeling that I could do well on this course. There's something about the course I like, and Ernie also told me early on in the year that this course you'll like. So I turned out to like it a lot.

RAND JERRIS: Retief, thank you very much for your time, and congratulations once again.

End of FastScripts...

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