In a new series on Compleat Golfer, WADE PRETORIUS picks seven standout moments in the career of two-time Major champion and Hall of Fame member Retief Goosen.
Stamping his class
The US Open in 2004 was a controversial one with Shinnecock Hills playing up to his notorious status. The finale though was a spectacle as Retief Goosen and Ernie Els were involved in a battle with Phil Mickelson. The win, his second Major, put him on the path to a Hall of Fame career.
Relief! Southern Hills Country Club was the setting for a wildly dramatic 2001 US Open as Goosen edged Mark Brooks in a 18-hole playoff. The South African was forced to dig deep and rely on his steel after failing to wrap up the win in regulation after calamity on the 72nd hole from 12 feet. The win lifted Goosen into the top 30 in the world.
Champion of the Tour
A famous take down of Tiger Woods for Goosen, who fired off a final round bogey-free 64 to win the season-ender. Woods, who limped home with a 72 finished in second albeit four back. Goosen also added the Smurfit European Open to a profitable year.
Sun City sizzler
The Official World Golf Ranking doesn’t list the Nedbank Golf Challenge among Goosen’s top 20 performance but for any South African golfer it forms part of the holy grail. And while many believe countryman Ernie Els to be the King of Sun City – he has three wins – there was very nearly a case for Goose to take the mantle. 2005 saw Goosen in the middle of his best years – he spent over 250 weeks inside the top 10 in the world between 2001 and 2007 – and he cemented his class by lifting the crystal ball with a six-shot win over Els and Australia’s Stuart Appleby.
It was welcome relief for Goosen after his playoff loss the year before to Sergio Garcia.
What happened in 2006? Goosen endured another playoff lose as Jim Furyk won an almighty battle between Darren Clarke, Adam Scott and Goosen. The records in the Gary Player Country Club clubhouse will show Goosen as a one-time winner but it could’ve easily been three in a row.
On top of the world
Goosen and Els were countryman. Two South Africans takin on the world’s best and often winning. They were, also, naturally rivals for there can be only one name on top after 72 holes. But in 2001, the pair combined to take on the world in Gotemba, Japan for the WGC-World Cup. Not even Tiger’s brilliance could deny the South Africans who won a four-team playoff which included the Americans.
Goosen kickstarted his 2002 with a victory at Lake Karrinyup GC in Australia when he added the first prize of €243,640. A third round 63 put him in pole position as he held off countryman Els and Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who finished third and fourth respectively. The win set the platform for a year that included runner-up finishes at The Masters and the WGC-American Express Championship.
The Goose now flies in the PGA Champions Tour and is already a Major winner. Back to back birdies helped him secure his maiden title – the Senior Players Championship at Firestone Country Club in 2019. After surrendering his 36-hole lead, he showed his mettle in the final round to get the job done. An easy choice then for Rookie of the Year in 2019.