What they said: Retief Goosen

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March 17, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE: Transitions Championship transcript archive

DOUG MILNE: Retief, thanks for joining us for a few minutes after your third round here at the Transitions Championship. Certainly no stranger to the interview room here. 6-under 65 today. Your best round here at the Copperhead Course. Just a couple comments on the round and then we'll take a few questions.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it's probably the last time I was in the media center was about 2009. (Laughter) A lot of you guys have aged a lot since I've seen you.

It's nice to be back over here, playing well. I love the course obviously. I putt well around it. I see some good shapes around it, and it's always nice coming back to a place where you've won before and like to play.

Q. What's got you playing well again? Last year wasn't your best year but what's got you back on track here?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, my back has been the main issue the last year. Really since the British Open, it was pretty bad. Pulled out of the British Open and the PGA. And then took a few months off towards the end of the year, and then started working with Cornell on my back, and he did a great job getting me back on a course playing November, December, January back in South Africa.

But the last three weeks, it's really just started getting bad again. So we decided to call it a day. We withdrew from Bay Hill yesterday and I'm going to get the injections done on Wednesday. So hopefully I'll be ready to get going again after the Masters, or maybe the Masters if I play well tomorrow.

Q. You just did this revival through therapy and you didn't have any injections or surgery or anything??

RETIEF GOOSEN: No.

Q. What was the diagnosis on that??

RETIEF GOOSEN: I've got an L3 bulging disk and degenerating disk. It's bulging in two places. Yeah, it's not good. My guy has done great job to get me going in the morning.

Last week, particularly, was bad. I nearly pulled out of last week, but this week; lucky the heat, as well, it helps a little bit.

Q. Where are you having the procedure done? Who is going to do it?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Not 100 percent confirmed but we are booked in at moment with Virginia Beach with a doctor up there that was recommended to us. So we are flying up there Wednesday morning to go see him.

Q. So it hurts you while you are playing and you're playing through some pain??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, every shot. I actually had to change a little bit of my address position and get my back in a different position to try have it not pinch as much. In a way it's maybe improved my balance a little bit but I'm hitting a lot of shots that goes right and just can't get the body through it.

But today, you know, it was really no different to the other rounds. Played pretty similar but I just made a few more putts today.

Q. What kind of -- what do you have to go through before the round to get ready to play with this back??

RETIEF GOOSEN: We do a lot of deep tissue work. We do some exercises trying to get the disk compressed in, inner core exercises. So yeah, we probably spend about 45 minutes before I go to the tee in the morning.

Q. How is the course playing??

RETIEF GOOSEN: The course is great. It's a bit softer, the greens are slower than it was the last few years. But it's still playing tough.

Q. Considering the back, are you surprised you shot 65??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I mean, luckily this course, you don't have to bomb it off the tee. There's not too many long holes. Quite a few 3-wood holes off the tee. You know, I might be hitting a club more than most of the other guy, but it's not a course that you have too much of a disadvantage if you don't hit it too long.

But today, my back was probably better yesterday than it was today. But that's the way golf is. You know, one day you make putts and the next day you don't.

Q. What kind of injections on Wednesday??

RETIEF GOOSEN: It's PRP, the protein injections into the disk.

Q. And how much --

RETIEF GOOSEN: Vijay had it done; Couples had it done; Kuehne. They went to the guy in Germany, it's the same thing over here. We have good doctors, too.

Q. Did you feel something on most shots or can you talk about that??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, really last year, whenever I bent over, my left leg went lame. I couldn't stand on my left leg, especially over putting funny enough. I had like 90 percent of my weight on my right leg. And then it's the same with the golf swing. You can't get your weight onto your left side, and that's why you're hanging back and leaving everything right.

So, yeah, it's really the pain that goes into the left leg, the left side of the back and then into the front of the stomach where I get it.

Q. Today you felt some stuff??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Today was more in the back. More in the lower back into the glute area. But it seems to, once I actually start getting walking, it seems to be a little bit better. In the morning, the first few shots, it's like little chip shots. After a few holes and start loosening up, it gets better.

Q. How hard is it to focus on your game and the shots you're trying to hit with all that going on??

RETIEF GOOSEN: The thing is, you can't practice. That's the thing. I arrived here on Wednesday. I didn't play a practice round. I just arrived after Sunday, we just worked on the back, I got here Wednesday I think two o'clock. I hit a few balls at four o'clock and that was it. So, yeah, it's lack of practice, really, that is the most frustrating thing. You can't go out and practice or get ready for a tournament.

Q. So will your expectations for tomorrow be lower because of all this, and could that sometimes be a good thing??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I mean, yesterday I set my mind out here, okay, Augusta is not going to be there; I finished poorly yesterday with a double on 16 and fell way back. So you sort of tell yourself, probably going to need to shoot low on the weekend to get into the top 5 to by the end of next week stay in the Top?50 in the World Rankings, and then maybe be ready for Augusta.

So I withdrew, and that made me more relaxed, that you know, this is my last week, my last chance is today and tomorrow. Maybe I'm fighting for that last spot in Augusta. (Smiling).

Q. Does having won a tournament before matter when you go into the final day of any tournament??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Sorry? Does it?

Q. When you've won a tournament before and you have a chance to win again, does it matter that you've won here before??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Not really. You want to try and win it -- it would be nice to be the first player to win this event three times. I understand that Transitions is no more from next year, is that correct? So hopefully, this is such a great golf course, and hopefully we'll find a good date and a new sponsor for it. The players like coming to play this course.

Q. How much has Augusta been on your mind??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I always said Augusta and St. Andrews are my two favorite golf courses in the world. It's not an event you want to miss. I've been playing there for quite a number of years now. I'm determined to keep going.

Q. Will you go there no matter sort of how bad the back; presuming you stay in the Top?50?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I'm hoping that my back is going to be ready by Augusta if I'm in it, yeah. If I get it done on Wednesday, it gives me a week and a half, almost two weeks before I have to tee it up again to recover.

Q. How fast do those injections work? Have they given you an idea on the recovery?

RETIEF GOOSEN: Vijay told me he was about a week or two weeks, yeah, and he was hitting balls again. Everybody's different. So just have to wait and see.

Q. How long is it projected to last? What's the expectation on the injection?

RETIEF GOOSEN: The actual injection not too long I hope. I don't like needles. (Laughter).

I don't know. I hope it's something that could be a bit more of a permanent cure. They seem pretty positive about this procedure, or this problem. So hopefully I'll be one of those that have no problems after that.

Q. Have you had anything like that before??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I would say the last three years, I've had a bad back, but really the last year has been the worst.

Q. Any injections, though??

RETIEF GOOSEN: No, none at all. Never had any at all.

Q. Are there some day?to?day activities that it really bothers you; sitting on a plane? Do you have trouble getting up or getting a glass of water?

RETIEF GOOSEN: You can't really do much. You can't even kick a soccer ball around with your boy, all those sort of activities, it's hard. I think that's how I flared it up again three weeks ago, kicking a ball with my boy. I think that's how I flared it up again. It was really bad again.

Q. One bogey today??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, on the third I hit a 6-iron way right, no chance. So good 5 at the end actually.

Q. On a little bit of a different subject, you've won a couple of U.S. Opens but never reached No. 1 in the World Rankings. Lee Westwood and Luke Donald have been No. 1 but have never won a Major Championship. In your mind, which is harder, to get to No. 1 in the world or to win a major championship??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I would probably say winning a Major Championship I think's harder. Like you say, you can win a lot of tournaments and be No. 1. You know, Tiger would know, all his 14 majors was harder to win than being No. 1. But winning majors and big events, you become No. 1. So it really comes -- No. 1, it doesn't mean anything. It's how you play.

We all know some players might not be No. 1 in the world but through a stretch of four or five months, you might play the best golf in the world for that four months. Yeah, the World Rankings, it's about consistency, being up there and winning consistently, and then you'll be a top?ranked player. But winning major is hard. It's the toughest tournaments to win.

Q. So what would you say to somebody who would say, well, Ben Curtis or Todd Hamilton won a major, but never have sniffed being No. 1 in the world.

RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, well, they are all great -- they have all won tournaments before. Might not have been on the PGA TOUR. Might have been somewhere around the world. They are all good players. I mean, to win a major, you've got to be a good player and you've got to get your breaks, as well, to win. And, yeah, good players can't always keep on winning a major, so somebody else has got to win it.

Q. And just to follow up on what you said before about your left leg going lame, is that when you are bending over; is that a shooting pain or numbness or weakness??

RETIEF GOOSEN: Weakness, numbness, I would say, yeah. Mostly a weakness that I just can't get my weight on it.

Q. Have you ever won a tournament injured before??

RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't know, I can't remember. Probably not, no.

DOUG MILNE: Let's go through your card and get your birdies.

RETIEF GOOSEN: First, hit driver, 5?wood short of the green and chipped it down to four feet.

6, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and a 6?iron probably to 25 feet and made a good putt there.

7, I hit a good 3-wood and a 60?degree wedge to about four feet.

9 was probably the best putt I made today. I hit it above and left of the hole. So 20-footer with probably about five feet of break, so it was a good putt.

14, I hit driver, 3-wood just short right and chipped it down to five feet.

Made a 20?footer on 15 and 16, really. So the putter really -- I was never hitting it really close, so made a lot of good distance putts to get the good score.

DOUG MILNE: Retief, we appreciate your time as always and welcome back to the media center.

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