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March 17, 2010

Retief Goosen


MARK WILLIAMS: Retief, thanks for joining us, defending champion here at Transitions Championship.
Obviously you are pretty happy to be back I would think, two-time winner of this event. Just tell us what it means to win around here; you have great experience winning here twice, and you have a lot of knowledge about the golf course.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it's always really nice being back at a course that you've won on a few times, and the golf course is just a great ball-striking course. You need to see the shots off the tee and into the greens. Very tricky greens in general.
I haven't seen the course yet. I'll find out this afternoon, but it looks in good shape. But I just like the place. It's quite -- it's not a very flat golf course. Some holes are flat but quite a bit of slope on it, and the golf course just seemed to suit my mind pretty well. It's a golf course that you need to play well on; if you play bad, it's going to show. You can't get away with bad golf.
MARK WILLIAMS: Can you sum up your form this year? You've had a pretty good start with three Top-10s, and maybe a little rusty last week.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Unfortunately last week was very disappointing. Doral is a course I like, and I've had a couple of weeks off before that, and unfortunately I didn't do any practicing and it probably showed.
I was back down in South Africa for five days, and then in London the week before. Not really that pleasant to go out in three, four degrees Celsius weather to go and practice.
Of course, disappointing last week, but I'm working up for this week, next week Bay Hill and then on to Augusta.

Q. How much of this week and next week is about the tournament and how much is it about Augusta?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, this week generally the greens are very quick; so you do need to have a feel about quick greens before you go into Augusta. Bay Hill, generally, greens are quite flat there, so you don't get very speedy putts.
But yeah, it's good weeks to work on your game and you sort of feel like you're getting ready to play. Going to Augusta at the moment, I'm still a question mark; Houston, the week before Augusta, if I'm going to play or not, but I will see how it goes in the next couple of weeks.

Q. What did you go to South Africa for?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I went down there for a launch thing for my wine. My dad has been pretty ill, he's been in the hospital, and was there for quite a few weeks so I went to visit him.

Q. How is the prognosis?
RETIEF GOOSEN: He's fine now. He's out of hospital. It was just a stomach issue, and hopefully he's all clear.

Q. How much does experience play a factor out here? A lot of veteran guys do well out here; how important is experience out here?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, yeah, it's a golf course you need to know the greens pretty well and what kind of shots you need to hit around this golf course. I definitely do like the way this course sets up and the way I can see the shot you need to hit. Last week I struggled at Doral to find my game, and I drove it very bad. When you drive it bad, you're struggling out of the rough.
This week, hopefully my game, I worked with Gregor a little bit on the driving range at Lake Nona, and so I'm feeling a bit more confident going into today and tomorrow.

Q. I'm wondering, did you see any of Ernie's round on Sunday, and what you thought that looked like ten years ago for him; and looked like he put all of the pieces back together and there's still fight left in the old dog yet.
RETIEF GOOSEN: He's not that old. He's younger than me. (Smiling).
No, it's nice to see Ernie play well. I watched quite a bit in the last few holes. Obviously the big turning point was on 14, definitely. I thought Charl was going to catch him there and it was going to be interesting coming down the last. I think that putt sort of put Charl and Robert back.
But it's nice to see he did well. I played with him in a practice round Tuesday and Wednesday with Charl, and he was hitting the ball unbelievably well. So it's nice to see that he kept it going for the rest of the week.

Q. Obviously you heard about Tiger yesterday; you guys are all typically using this month to try to peak for Augusta, at least it's in the back of your mind, players talk about that all the time. He's going to go there without a tournament at all. How difficult will that be there for anybody, let alone -- we all know how good he is, but how difficult will that be to play the Masters for your first event of the year?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, you know, if he's mentally right and ready to play, then he definitely -- it shouldn't be too much of a problem. It's not that he's coming off an injury. Like last time, he came off an injury, so he wasn't quite committed to really going full-out hitting the ball.
So this time, it shouldn't be as big a problem coming back as it was last time.

Q. In what way does Augusta test you differently from the U.S. Open, differently from the Open?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, Augusta is like a U.S. Open now. You've got -- it's really tree-lined and not as open as it used to be. The only difference is that there's no rough like at the U.S. Open.
But I mean, if they have six-inch rough around Augusta, it will be one of the hardest courses we'll play every year. It's going to be interesting to see what the course is going to be like. I understand they have had pretty bad weather up there, and you know, last year, the course was good, but the year before that, the grass was a little bit thin in places. Hopefully they have had enough growth to see the course in good shape.

Q. Did you see the snow pictures on the Internet?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I did. I did see some of it. Yeah, somebody got in trouble for it. (Laughter)

Q. You obviously played some rounds with Tiger at Augusta; just what do you think in terms of that place, the atmosphere, the crowds are going to kind of be like this year with him making his return there?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it's going to be great I think. People, everybody, I suppose would like to see him come back and play. It's great for sponsors and TV ratings. So I'm glad to see that it looks like his personal life is back on track and he's ready to come out and play.

Q. When you were dueling Phil in the U.S. Open, Shinnecock, I guess that would have been, I think you made the comment afterwards that you felt like everybody was rooting for him and not a lot of guys were rooting for you, or you had heard things in the crowd to that effect. What was that like, and how are you able to tune it out, assuming that you were, or use that to your advantage; because for the first time in his career, when Tiger comes back, to some degree he's going to be the bad guy and he's going to have people actually pulling against him?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I don't think he's going to be the bad guy. He's going to be 99.9 percent the good guy. There's going to be that one percent that's going to make comments and that will probably is going to make him feel a little bit like the rest of us.
Because, yeah, like playing in the U.S. Open, you have comments from people trying to put you off and make mistakes. So in a way I think the most interesting thing to see what's going to happen when he actually gets out and see what the crowd is going to react like towards the situation. But in general, I think everybody is happy he's coming back.

Q. Were you able to tune it out okay?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it's hard, but in a way you turn it. You try and prove something to yourself and them that you can play like that with all of that stuff going on. In a way, it makes you a bit more determined to play well.

Q. Just to follow up on that, if he's become a little more vulnerable in the public sense, what about inside the ropes where he always had an armor of intimidation that he built up over years of just putting guys away; does that still hold or does he have to kind of rebuild that now? How do guys look at him on the tee box?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I think the guys will look at him the same way as ever. What happened was something that happened off the golf course; not on the golf course. If it was a cheating situation on the golf course or something like that, the players would look at you different. But, you know, it's a personal thing and it had no effect really on the golf besides TV ratings. But in a way players look at him the same.

Q. How long did it take you, in say a decade or so, of becoming a regular in the majors of finding the right schedule for yourself to go into them, play the week before, two weeks, whatever?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Generally I like playing the week before. Before Augusta, I enjoyed playing Atlanta.

Q. Can't do that anymore.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Unfortunately they don't do that anymore, because that course was great preparation. Phil played it because he felt like it was good preparation.
But I hear the Houston course they are trying to do something similar, so I haven't played that but I might be thinking about that. And you want to go into a major feeling like you're a little bit on your game. You don't want to go in there feeling like, what do I need to work on. You want to go there feeling like you can play.

Q. To follow up on that, if you had to go to Augusta and not have played in a tournament for five months leading up to that, which is what Tiger is going to have to do, what will be the hardest part for you, not Tiger, but the hardest part for you on that golf course going in cold after five months?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Was it five months when he last played? It's going to be five months.

Q. 144 days.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Like I say, the guy won't come back if he doesn't think he's sort of ready to play.

Q. If you had to be in the same situation on that golf course with the specific challenges of Augusta National, what would be the hardest part for your game?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Just playing fit really. Just getting into a rhythm. That would be the hardest thing. I mean, hitting the shots, you can. But finding your rhythm on a golf course, getting into that sort of comfort zone is going to be the hardest part. You know, seeing the shots; those are the hard things that generally when I've had some time off that you're feel is a little bit off so finding your rhythm is not easy.
MARK WILLIAMS: Retief, we appreciate your time and good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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