An Interview With: RETIEF GOOSEN
GORDON SIMPSON: First of all, you may as well tell us what the conditions are like out there. Seems very squirly and blustery, and there have been a few changes since last year. Give us your assessment on the golf course.
RETIEF GOOSEN: The course is in great shape. The greens are very good, fairways as well. I don't think the rough is quite as high as it was last year, but the way the wind is playing now, the first nine, it is very difficult, very much into you off the left the whole way.
Coming down the back nine changes on 13 and 15, which is very good changes. The course is in great condition. The scoring is probably not going to be as low if it stays like this, but if we have good weather on the weekend, similar playing, much softer than this time last year.
? RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, we actually were quite surprised this morning that it's not all that soft. The greens are much firmer than we expected it to be. At the moment, although they had some rain, it's probably playing firmer than it was last year.
Q. Clubs you were hitting at 13 and 15?
RETIEF GOOSEN: 13 today I was hitting down gale, driver, 9-iron. And driver 9-iron as well on 15. (Laughter). When the wind turns the other way, that's obviously -- David Carter said he played it with the wind the other way. Driver, 3-iron on 13 and 2-iron and 3-iron on 15.
Q. How is your game right now?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I am playing okay, actually. Just need to make a few putts again. I actually hit the ball quite nicely last week. Funny enough, didn't make any anything. A couple of bad drives here and there cost me, but in general, I am looking forward to the week.
Q. Apart from the weather is there going to be a real similarity between the west course as it is now and the U.S. Open course -- (inaudible)?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it wasn't this windy there, but --
Q. In terms of the actual layout?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It was a lot more hillier. Obviously a lot firmer greens, but the course -- like I said, the rough isn't quite as high as it was on the course, so that might make scoring a little bit easier out of the rough than it was last year. But still got a few days. By Sunday it might have grown a couple of inches again, so could get difficult on the weekend.
Q. How is the wind against you going out?
RETIEF GOOSEN: The third was driver, 4-iron this morning, and driver 3-iron on the fourth, par 5 downhill (inaudible) it does play long going out and very tricky in the wind, swirling around, so -- and it's not easy judging clubs out there.
RETIEF GOOSEN: I am a little bit tired, but I am not playing next week, and then I will play for two weeks in the States and then come back and have a couple of weeks off, then have the run straight through to the British Open. I think I will be ready for the British after a good break next week and then another two-week break.
Q. Have you bought anything with all the money you've found?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I haven't done anything. No new cars or anything like that, so -- we have moved house, but in general I just need it all for Tracey to spend. (Laughter).
Q. Did you play Bethpage when when you were there?
RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I haven't. I was there at the clubhouse and looked over the course, but didn't have time to play. It's going to be so different when the time comes to playing it.
Q. Will you have any specific preparations for the US Open?
RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I will do it the same as I always do. I will play the week before in the States, sort of get out of the jet-lag and get used to the firmer conditions and then go out and play two practice rounds at Bethpage. I think you can overprepare really for a tournament if you play five, six practice rounds before a tournament.
Q. Tiger said he likes to learn specific shots before the Masters. Do you feel the same about the US Open?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Normally they try and set up the course before the majors similar to what the next major would be. Like the Masters, at BellSouth Classic it's very fast and sort of run-off areas. I am sure the Buick will be thick rough and very similar climate, so it's good to play I think the week before and sort of be play fit when a major comes around.
GORDON SIMPSON: The Volvo PGA is that a title that you rate very highly?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, definitely. I would like to do a little bit better around here. I have not done well in the past. For some reason, I have just not been finding the birdies around this course like Colin (Montgomerie) does and some of the other players, but the greens are normally quite tricky to read, they are quite flat in places and it is difficult to make up which way to go, but it's going to turn around for me hopefully this week. Like I say I feel like I am playing quite nicely so looking forward to the week.
Q. How does this differ from Match Play week?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Match Play week there's only a few players so you don't have any problems with spike marks and heel marks, the greens automatically just look a lot better. I don't think there's really that much difference to then and now. When I played this morning they were perfect.
Q. What would you rate the west course in terms of courses that you like to play?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I know it has been there for a long time, but some of the smaller trees have really grown in now, and it's really becoming a lot more a tree-lined course now in some of the holes down there, down in the bottom there, 7 and 8 and 9. I know 9 now if you hit it in the rough on the right, small trees there by the bunkers has really grown by about 5 meters so you can get blocked out of there quite easy. And the changes they made lengthening a lot of the holes, it's been good.
Q. Where would you rate it?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It's difficult to say. I would definitely rank it in the Top-10 courses that I play, yeah. I have not played that much in America that I can really say, but in Europe it's definitely in the Top 5.
Q. Is it the course you sort of play socially
? RETIEF GOOSEN: When I have a week off I don't play golf, so if I sometimes feel like coming for a day I will just hit some balls. I have never played the course besides a tournament.
Q. Are you a member?
RETIEF GOOSEN: No, only once, I have come for lunch here. It is a bit too flashy for me around here. (Laughter) I like to go out in jeans and tee short and they don't allow it.
Q. We have standards in this club. (Laughter). Are you enjoying your U.S. Open year?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it has been great.
Q. How does it feel being announced US Open Champion?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It's definitely been the real thing realizing that you have won it when you get announced as that on the 1st tee. Not a lot of players that get announced that way, so it's a great feeling. It has been busy and -- but it's been a great year and great experience and hopefully few week's time you never know what can happen. I see myself more of a chance winning it now than I did last year, so looking forward to it.
? RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't have any of their problems. No, see me in a T-shirt and jean -- (laughter) (inaudible).
? Yeah, actually I do, but no, I don't have any of those problems, so it's great to have some sort of a private life still.
Q. You used to get recognized when you are out dining?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Hardly ever. I think people are used to seeing you with your hat on. When you take it off, they struggle to recognize you.
Q. What did you learn when playing with Tiger Woods at the Masters?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I can't imagine what it's like to be Tiger Woods, but I don't want to -- I am sure he has a great life, but I don't think I would like to live the way he's living, bodyguards everywhere, but if I win another 10 majors from now than I have got no choice (laughter), but take it as it comes.
Q. What have you learned playing with him?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, it was great. I didn't mind playing with him. I really learned a lot to block out what is going on around me, so just been fun playing with him. On one side didn't learn anything, but I just didn't play well enough in the first few holes to make myself -- -- didn't learn anything, but I just didn't play well enough in the first few holes to make myself for (inaudible) try and two-putt (inaudible) so, that really was a turnaround but I still felt like I could win walking down the 15th. I know you are going for those holes when he had to lay-up and I could -- I made birdie on 17, one shot gain at the last, could have been different (inaudible) so I was still thinking that I had a chance, nice at least to be second.
Q. (Question about Presidents Cup team)?
RETIEF GOOSEN: The Presidents Cup is really I think picking up in popularity. I don't know, the guys say they really enjoy playing The Presidents Cup. The Ryder Cup obviously there's so much pressure and things involved, they find it a little bit more laid back when they play The Presidents Cup. It's going to be nice for going to South Africa next year and you know, it's a great golf course and a great place. Hopefully they all will come over and play. I am sure they will, so -- I think the tournament is going to grow really, like the Ryder Cup is.
Q. How has the U.S. Open changed you this last year?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I haven't changed. I just try and go out and do the things I normally do. Like I said, it has been a bit more busy and stuff, interviews, things like that and signing autographs has kind of been a nightmare in places but that's part of it. It's been great.
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