Retief Goosen is back in good health and aiming to make up for lost time as he tees off in the US Open at Oakmont Country Club this week.
The South African has found form again after an injury-plagued couple of years and will be looking to make the most of a special invitation from the USGA to play in the year’s second major. The two-time US Open champion will know that experience counts on the difficult layout of Oakmont Country Club, which counts in his favour.
‘The Goose’ won the first of his two US Opens in 2001 at Southern Hills Country Club when he led from the first round. A bogey on the last hole on Sunday saw Goosen drop into a 18-hole Monday playoff where he prevailed over American Mark Brooks by two shots after shooting an even-par 70.
His second major triumph came at Shinnecock Hills in 2004. The now seven-time PGA Tour winner shot to the head of the leaderboard after 54 holes, two shots clear of the likes of Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson. A final round one-over-par 71 for the 47-year-old was enough to claim the crown after all golfers struggled to break par.
The Polokwane-born golfer has enjoyed a good season, missing only one cut in 13 starts. His best performance so far was a tie for fourth place at the SA Open which he has backed up with four top-15 finishes, with three of them in his most recent starts. He found himself close to the front at The Players Championship, but faded in the latter stages.
Goosen ranks first in three-putt avoidance on the PGA Tour and second in putts for the first round of each tournament. This shows that the former world number three along remains one of the hottest putters on tour, which is crucial on the glass-like greens of Oakmont.
His weaknesses lies in driving accuracy (175th) and greens in regulation (167th).
Goosen missed the cut the last time he played at Oakmont in 2007 as well as last year at Chambers Bay. His last strong performance at a US Open came at The Olympic Club in 2012 when he tied for 10th,but he is due another top result at the toughest major.
With patience and experience on his side, an optimistic supporter may venture to say that there is a chance Goosen could win a third US Open title.