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June 15, 2001

Retief Goosen


RAND JERRIS: It's our pleasure to be joined by Retief Goosen. Retief, congratulations on your fine play today. Rounds of 66, 70 have you at 4-under for the Championship, and currently tied for the top position. Perhaps you can start us off with a few general comments about your play today.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, I didn't probably play as well as I played yesterday in the first eight holes, but I managed to keep it together on the greens and fairway. They were actually a lot softer today, so some ways the shots managed to stay on the fairway. I was pretty pleased the way I played. I played pars all the way, and when a birdie came along, it was a bonus. And of course it's not easy out there. I finished off of with a bogey, unfortunately. But I'm very happy overall with the way I played.

Q. Could you be a little more specific about how the course is different, how it's playing different for you today versus yesterday?

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's just -- the fairways are not running nearly as much as they ran yesterday. Yesterday some of the holes you got 50 yards of run, while today the ball just basically stopped where it landed. So in that way it was a lot easier to hit the fairways. You could hit it down the wrong side of the fairway and still manage to hold the fairway.

Q. The greens speed?

RETIEF GOOSEN: The greens are as good as they can get. I don't think I've ever putted on better greens than this. They're just in perfect condition. Obviously, today they were a little bit softer, you can afford to fly the ball at the flag and not having to play so far short of the hole on some of the holes.

Q. Were you in England last week, playing the English Open? If so, tell me the adjustment that you have to make as far as the weather and the golf course?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, last week we got windburn, and this week we get sunburn. It was very cold last week, especially the first two rounds. I don't know, the wind chill must have been nearly zero. It was a bit different coming out Monday night and suddenly being in a sauna. I feel like I'm losing a few pounds this week.

Q. Even though the tournament, for the day, is not over yet, could you just talk about the mindset of perhaps having the lead going into the weekend in a major?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Obviously, tomorrow I'll be a little bit nervous, when I stand on the first tee. But, you know, that's what golf is all about. You've just got to be nervous, and these tournaments there's more nerves in it. I have to concentrate on the shots at hand, and stay below the hole. Anything past the flag is a lot of trouble.

Q. Retief, could you talk about how much the course has dried out from when you showed up this morning at 7 until you finished the round; and given that I don't suspect any more rain is coming, how much faster and firmer you expect it to be for the next two days?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I would think it's definitely going to be a few more feet roll on the ball by the weekend. This morning, obviously, there was still a bit of moisture on it, and they weren't as quick. But as the afternoon went on some of the putts -- I remember No. 15, putting from pin-high, from two yards away or three yards away I was aiming a yard and a half left. The putt was just turning sideways. And we're going to get a few more of those by the weekend.

Q. Have you felt that the Open, since your game with fairways and greens, entering this tournament, did you feel like this was a good tournament for you?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I didn't know the course at all. I played a few holes with Nick Price on Wednesday and he showed me a few ins and outs of the course, and where to go and where not to go. So I think I learned a little bit from that. But the course, I like the course, the course is great. It's a very tricky course. It's probably not some of the longer courses we play, but very tricky.

Q. I just want to make sure I understood that last part. Have you play the full 18 here? How many times have you been around this track before you teed it up in earnest on Thursday?

RETIEF GOOSEN: I got here at 7 o'clock Monday night. So I played a practice round on Tuesday and Wednesday. So I've had two rounds. And Wednesday was a bit of a boiler, it was quite difficult.

Q. Retief, a lot of people in Europe and in South Africa, would have expected you to be in this position a long time before now. What's your explanation of why you haven't?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I haven't played well enough. I don't know, you know, it's -- the game goes funny sometimes. Sometimes you play really well, but you're not scoring very well. That's the way I've played really the last sort of four tournaments. I felt like I was hitting the ball quite well, but didn't score. And last week I found something in my putting, and started putting quite a little bit better. And I brought my game out feeling that I can maybe do something this week. In the past I felt like I wasn't playing well enough. But now I'm looking forward to the weekend. It's going to be a tough, long weekend, and it's going to be interesting to see how I cope with the pressure.

Q. Retief, I see you're playing on the European Tour through The Golf Channel here in the United States. You play very well on the weekends rather than the first two days, from what I watch. Are you comfortable with your position right now or would you rather be chasing the leaders?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, most of my tournaments I won in Europe I won from leading the first round. So I like that, rather than chasing the leaders. But all my tournament wins come from leading from the first round. So maybe we'll see what can happen this weekend, if I could just play my game. It's not a course that somebody is going to be running away. So it's really just trying to hang in there and make pars. And if you get a birdie, that's a bonus.

Q. Retief, can you talk about the lightning incident and when that happened?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I was 17-years-old when that happened. I was playing golf with a friend of mine and it was raining and lightning around. And we stopped play, actually, and we waited until the storm went past and then we teed off. And we were on our way, walking to the fairway and there was a couple of trees you have to walk past. As I was next to one of the trees, the lightning hit the tree and me. So when I woke up I was lying in the hospital, not knowing what's going on. So it's probably not an experience, because you don't feel fear or anything like that, it's just, the next moment you're there and the next moment you're not. So it's obviously something you don't want to happen to anybody, but I was one of the lucky ones to survive it.

Q. I've got two questions for you: Given your experience with lightning, like yesterday when the storms come by, do you get shaken up or memories flash back? And the other question is, what happened in the last four majors, are you surprised that Tiger is this far back as he is?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, yesterday didn't really bother me. I think anybody gets a little bit nervous when there's lightning around. It's not a comfortable position to be in. But it's not that I get a bit of a nervous breakdown when there's lightning around or anything, and start running off the course. They called us off well before the storm got here yesterday. Yeah, I'm a little bit surprised that Tiger is not really playing as well, but there's still a long way to go. We know Tiger. Tomorrow is going to be really a day for him, big day for him. But the course isn't playing really as -- like I say, that long for him, I would think. But like I said, the greens are very tricky. If you just end up the wrong side of the flag, it's not easy to make birdies. And I think that's probably what's been happening with him.

Q. Retief, I was wondering if you thought with the surprise -- we're all surprised that Tiger is as far back as he is. Do you think that's going to put an extra fire and an extra competitive spirit in some of the main players in the top-10? Do you think this is really -- the intimidation factor has sort of been removed all of a sudden, and do you feel that this will kind of get things rolling?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, tomorrow might be a different story, we'll see what happens tomorrow. If Tiger shoots 6-under tomorrow, he's back in the tournament. But I think the other guys are probably feeling like this could be their chance. But it's going to be a difficult weekend. I think David Duval said he didn't play that well, so he's quite happy to come out 1-under par. His game could only improve on the weekend. Phil Mickelson just had a hole-in-one, and that could get him fired up and he could be leading by the end of the day.

Q. Obviously, there's much more competition, other than Tiger, but if you look at Tiger as perhaps still the chief competition or the chief guy to worry about, I'm just wondering, with a nine shot lead that you have over him, do you feel that that's safe?

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, definitely not. Remember The Masters, when he won his first Masters, when he shot 40 or something on the first nine and came back. It shows you anything can happen out there. You just need to get on a roll. And we know Tiger can get on a roll so quickly. I don't think nine shots back is anything that he thinks he's out of the tournament.

Q. Maybe you're tired from playing, what, 29 holes today or whatever, is your personality normally this subdued or is this a good example of the way you are all the time?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, no, I'm definitely very nervous when I'm out there. I try and just sort of think that I'm calm, and maybe that will help the nerves. But I'm sure tomorrow when I stand on the first tee I'll be shaking a little bit. But once you get out there and you get playing and start concentrating on your shots, the nerves seem to calm down a little bit. But it's just never going to go away.

End of FastScripts....

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