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January 8, 2013

Retief Goosen


PAUL SYMES:テつ Your first tournament since the US PGA Championship.テつ Firstly, how is your back and the surgery you had?
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ Yeah, it was pretty much a week after the PGA.テつ Yeah, it was a scary decision at the end, but I think at the end, I had no choice.テつ I had an L3‑L4 disk that totally disintegrated really.
And then I went to this Mr.David Harrison in London, who is a spinal surgeon, and we did a disk replacement; and really since the day after surgery, I was walking; and a week later, my back was feeling good.
And so far, it's been five months now and it's still feeling great.テつ Getting a bit tight from hitting a few rounds in the last couple of weeks and played about six rounds of golf in the last couple of weeks but so far still good.
Very excited about the new year.テつ Hopefully the back will stay as good as it feels now.テつ I just need to really work on my swing a little bit and find a bit of game.
PAUL SYMES:テつ Obviously you came close to winning this last year, and this being your first tournament in five months, what are your expectations of what you can go out and do this week.
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ I don't really know what to expect.テつ You're feeling good and sort of keen to play again after five months.テつ I think, you know, I like Durban Country Club.テつ I lost by a shot to Ernie in the SA Open, and it's a course I like.テつ I've got some good memories about the course and hopefully that will help me this week.
I'm not really sitting here expecting to win but you never know in this game.テつ But I just hope to have a good week, after five months off.テつ This will be my first week of playing six rounds of golf, and see how it feels and how we get on and take a week off next week and then go onto Qatar and Dubai.

Q.テつ Can you tell us when did you start hitting balls again, and tell us the time line from your surgery date and how do you have to manage the motion of your spine from now on?
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ Well, no different, really, to before.テつ Obviously the last three years have been pretty bad.テつ I really struggled with my back the last three years.
Last year I tried a bit of everything.テつ We had PRP injections, loads of physio, anything you could think of but nothing really helped.テつ And in the end, we had no choice but to have the operation.
And it's been great.テつ It's been almost five months now.テつ I've been off painkillers.テつ That cleans the system out a little bit.テつ You feel a bit better.テつ So I'm feeling very confident for this year.テつ I started hitting balls, like I say, or half‑shots, about three weeks ago and I felt pretty good.
So about two weeks ago, just before the deadline to enter for this, I decided I would enter for it and see I feel; to last week I was up at Zebula Country Club and I played a couple of rounds there and my back felt pretty good and I decided would I give it a go.

Q.テつ Inaudible.
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ My spine is quite noticeably different on X‑rays‑‑ until I straighten it, the new disk has definitely straightened out the whole back a lot.
So my swing does feel a little bit different.テつ It feels like I can stay on top of the ball a little bit easier.テつ The last year, I had a problem of falling back because my back was leaning that way.
Now I feel that I can stay on top of it a little bit, which is good.テつ It's just now a question of getting some strength back, hitting it quite short and then just getting my timing back.

Q.テつ With the five months off and time to reflect, did you come to any new insights about your career or anything else?
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ No, I had some pretty good time off.テつ Wasn't really thinking of golf.テつ Spent a lot of time with the family.テつ Just hanged around at home really.テつ I couldn't really do much for the first three months.
The first month and a half was lying down a lot and walking.テつ Then I started the rehab for about a month and a half, a lot of rehab and then from after three months, they put us back in the gym working out a bit and doing some more strength exercises again.
But December was a lot of holiday, a lot of lying on the beach, and had a few glasses of wine.テつ But I'm looking forward to the year now.テつ It's good.テつ Obviously you're still going to have to get out there and hit the shots, but I feel that I have a better chance now of playing well than I did the last few years.

Q.テつ Coming back into your rehab, is there any specific things that you've been doing or you haven't been doing to get back up into professional mode of play?
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ No, the exercises, it's pretty much what I've done before I had the operation, but that was all rehab to try to get my back in shape and that didn't work.テつ Now I continue those exercises to keep it in shape.
Not really any weight training as such for me at the moment.テつ It's just more like yoga kind of things, stretching.

Q.テつ You know the course pretty well, better than most.テつ What do you think the keys to scoring around here will be?
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ Well, the course is in great shape.テつ I understand Peter Matkovich has been in here a little bit in the last few months and obviously they had a lot of rain in December.
There's a couple of fairways here and there that's a little bit rough but the rest of the course is as good as I've seen it for a long time, and the greens are great.テつ They are going to be tricky to putt on.テつ They are going to be quick.
So a lot tougher of a course.テつ I think it's going to play than what we played the South African Open here.テつ If the wind is going to blow like today, it's going to be tough scoring.
Yeah, I think the course is going to play at least ten shots tougher than it did for the SA Open.

Q.テつ Last year, you got pipped by a then unknown, or new come comer, Branden Grace.テつ Could you have known at that time that he was going to become the phenomenal player that he is today?
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ I played with Branden before he started, the year before he last year, quite a few rounds.テつ He's a great ball‑striker and was hitting it straight.
Golf is such a fine line.テつ You just need that one break to get yourself in a winning mode, and I think that did a lot of good for him last year, him beating me in a playoff.テつ But it's great for him that it kick‑started his year last year.テつ I forget how many times he won last year.テつ It's great that we see that another South African is coming through.

Q.テつ How different is the course from 2010‑‑ and the par3‑‑
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ Yeah, and that par 3 is a very tricky par 3, too.テつ The course, like I say in general, is very tough.テつ I think around the greens it's going to be more difficult.テつ The ball runs away from the green a little more than it did in the SA Open, not having the same lines it's going to make it more tricky to chip around the greens.テつ And the speed of the greens is so much quicker than it was.
So I think the greens are going to be the more tricky part this time.テつ The course will very much play the same but on the greens it's going to be more difficult to make putts.

Q.テつ Having not hit balls in five months, when you come back to play a tournament, are you more excited?テつ Are you looking really forward to it?テつ Has it become special for you that you want to prove to someone‑‑
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ Yeah, I'm looking forward to the year.テつ As I say now, I'm feeling different and my back is feeling a lot better.テつ My mind is sort of a bit cleaner.テつ I've forgotten all the bad shots I think.
So now I just need to remember some good ones and get going again.テつ It's nice, in the last couple of days, I've probably hit more balls than I've hit for a long time.
Today I hit quite a few balls and my back is still feeling good.テつ So it's a question now of just building up slightly, getting my game really and hopefully when I get to the U.S. around the end of February, my game will be back.

Q.テつ Any instructions from the doctor, things you can't do?テつ Are there things that you can do around the house that you couldn't do before?
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ Well, like I say, I've pretty much given the all clear.テつ I can lift autumn the weights and stuff that I want but I'm still a little cautious about everything.テつ Even my golf swing, I'm holding back and not quite committing to the shot, and hitting a lot of 70 per cent shots, nothing really 100 per cent yet.
So I think it will take another good couple of months for me to find my stride again and get into a mode where I won't worry anymore about the back and just play.

Q.テつ How much will you play this year?
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ I'm playing ten events in the States, and Europe and the Far East so pretty much plan ongoing back to a full schedule again this year.

Q.テつ Are you looking forwardto playing with Ernie ‑‑
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ It's great to see Ernie is playing this week.テつ I think at the last minute he entered, as well, so it's nice to see him playing this week.テつ We both like this course.テつ We played here as juniors, and it's always nice to play with your countryman.テつ Hopefully, yeah, it will be the three of us again on the 18th on Sunday.

Q.テつ Following up on your schedule, could you elaborate, when you go back to the U.S.?
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ Yeah, I haven't really finalised when I'm starting in America in my first event back.テつ I'm still sort of thinking about that, which courses I want to start playing at, but it probably won't be before the end of February.

Q.テつ A less serious question, the hole‑in‑one prizes for this tournament, would you rather the Volvo Compact Excavator 15 or the Volvo FH Truck on 18?
RETIEF GOOSEN:テつ I think the FH Truck on 18, I could use it on my wine farm.

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