Retief Goosen ready for debut on PGA TOUR Champions
February 06, 2019
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- February 06, 2019
- Goosen turned 50 on Sunday and makes his debut at the Oasis Championship. (Getty Images)
Retief Goosen really isn’t sure what to expect from his maiden voyage onto PGA TOUR Champions.
The South African, who turned 50 on Sunday, will make his debut at this week’s Oasis Championship at the Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, Florida, not having played much competitive golf in the past handful of months. He hasn’t won in 10 years, is using new clubs, a new ball, has never seen this particular course.
“Unfortunately I haven’t played any sort of tournament golf for quite some time,” Goosen said on Wednesday. “I played two events in the past four months (on the PGA TOUR) and didn’t play well. I know I have some work to do to get myself some consistency going.”
None of this is to suggest Goosen will stumble from the gates. He posted a top 10 on the PGA TOUR as recently as June when he tied for sixth at the FedEx St. Jude Classic after a final-round 66. He’s being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame this year for a reason. He has been a great player on the world stage for a long time, a winner of multiple majors known for his calm demeanor as much as hit putting stroke.
At the same time, no one has won in his PGA TOUR Champions debut since Miguel Angel Jimenez did it at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in 2014. It’s not as easy as it used to be for the guys turning 50, as players have extended their careers and remained top contenders at 55 and beyond.
“I’ve practiced quite a lot to get ready,” Goosen said. “I also went through an equipment change. After 19 years with TaylorMade unfortunately they let me go, and so I’ve signed with Callaway. There’s been a lot of club testing and ball testing. I need to find a little combination of everything falling together.
“I think it’s fair to say I’m not as comfortable as I’d like to be. But you never know till you get to playing and focusing and get out there and play. I might just have everything fall into place perfectly and start off great. Or, it might take a few weeks to find my stride.”
One thing is for certain: Goosen is ready to devote himself to PGA TOUR Champions. While the occasional top 10 on the regular tour is a nice reminder of what once was, he’s ready to compete for trophies again.
“It’s been a while for me … since lifting a trophy,” Goosen said. “I’m keen to get out here and play. I know it will be tough. There’s no such thing as an easy tournament in golf. We’ll see how it goes.
“I think I’m going to play full time. I really think I’m sort of ready for a move away from the other tours, being 40 yards behind the youngsters and you don’t recognize half the field. After playing the other tours for 28 years, I’m ready for a little change. My focus … I’ll play a couple of events on the PGA TOUR, but 90 percent of my events will be on the Champions Tour. I want to get back into playing.”
Goosen couldn’t help but notice a lot of familiar faces at the pro-am pairings party on Tuesday night. There were players he played with and against for years. It at least gave him some sense of comfort.
But he knows none of his competitors is going to give him a break.
“From what I understand from when you hit that first ball on Friday until you hole out on Sunday you have to make birdies,” Goosen said. “If you shoot 2-under par you might move back 30 spots. It’s a birdie feast and your putting needs to be good. And putting has always been one of the stronger points of my game.”
Away from the course Goosen owns a winery and vineyard in his native South Africa. Goose Wines has built an excellent reputation, a fact he can be sure is not lost on his fellow competitors.
Goosen said no one asked to slip him a bottle at the pairings party, but he figure it’s coming. He enjoys his wine, too.
Now it’s time to find out if he’s aging like one.