Goose eyes league of veterans

2015-02-22 15:00

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South Africa’s two-time US Open winner Retief “The Goose” Goosen has finally reached the stage where he can begin to slow down – and prepare to campaign in the US PGA Champions Tour.

The tour is the preserve of US- and European-based golfers who are at least 50 years old. At 46, Goosen is only four years away from joining the league of golf’s golden oldies.

In an exclusive interview with City Press this week from Florida in the US where he is based, Goosen said he had decided to take it easy by concentrating mainly on campaigning in the US PGA Tour.

“I have decided to completely forget about playing on the European Tour to focus my attention on the US PGA tour.

“This will obviously give me ample time to prepare for the Champions Tour in four years’ time,” he said.

Goosen, who featured in the world rankings’ top 10 for more than 250 weeks between 2001 and 2007, said he was looking forward to winning at least one more tournament in the US and hopefully qualifying to compete in the US Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia in April.

He is now ranked 220th in the world.

“Jack Nicklaus became the oldest winner of the Masters, his sixth, at the age of 46 in 1986. My aim is to match him by winning the same event at the same age as well,” said Goosen who led the Northen Trust Open at Riviera CC, California on Friday.

The seasoned player was once a member of the so-called Big Five, joining the likes of Americans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Fijian Vijay Singh and South African Ernie Els.

Goosen, who underwent back surgery two years ago, said he had recovered completely.

“You can’t force your body when it can no longer exert itself.

“I am now at a stage where I no longer travel extensively. This has contributed a great deal towards my wellbeing, because I can now look after my body,” he explained.

When he breaks into the Champions Tour, The Goose will probably compete against established veterans Kenny Perry (US), Bernhard Langer (Germany) and Colin Montgomerie (Scotland).

Goosen’s first US Open victory was at Southern Hills Country Club in Oklahoma in 2001. He beat American Mark Brooks in a play-off.

The South African’s second win came in 2004 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York, where he beat Mickelson by two strokes. He won the European Tour’s Order of Merit in 2001 and 2002 and has registered nine victories on the Sunshine Tour.

Goosen, also a wine farm owner, finished 53rd at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines golf club in California three weeks ago.

“I’m looking forward to one day winning a major in the Champions Tour,” the Polokwane-born superstar said.

The Goose, who has earned more than R300?million since turning professional in 1990, will no doubt bring his focused, competitive edge – which has won him fans around the world – to the veteran stage.

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