Retief Goosen British Open Press Conference Transcript
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I don't think the course has changed at all. It's pretty much the way it was. They've lengthened a couple of par 3s. So I think the Par 3s are quite a bit tougher than they were in the past. I think the Par 3s are going to be key holes out there this week, especially the bunkers around the Par 3s are probably the worst on the whole course. I think you can pretty much make par over the whole week.
Q. On tour during the year you're playing inland courses. When you come to a links course is it more fun to play(inaudible)?
RETIEF GOOSEN: RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, I think so. Obviously the course is not as hard as it can be. With all the rain they've had, the fairways aren't running as fast as they normally can. The greens are very good. They still are a little bit slow. But I think with the rain and drizzle we've had, there is quite a bit of sand on the greens and it picks up quite a bit of sand and it slows them down a little. The greens are firm. They definitely are not soft at all, but everybody is very happy with the course. They haven't gone over the top or anything, like the (inaudible) at Carnoustie or some of the other courses, but generally it's in great shape and everybody is very happy. There's going to be a lot of players this week that think they can win or give themselves a good chance.
Q. Do you have a strategy for tomorrow or is it a question of seeing what the weather is like?
RETIEF GOOSEN: You have to see what the weather is like. At the moment there is hardly any wind so it does make it a lot easier, although it's quite cold, the ball is not going along way, so some of the holes are playing quite long. You have got to see what the wind does to see what kind of strategy you'll play with.
Q. What are your expectations over the next couple of days?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I'm looking forward to doing well for a change again. I've not been playing so well the last couple of months, but I just need to start making a few putts. Once you start making a few putts, some of the shots out there are a lot easier. You can go at more flags and still manage par. But if you're not putting so well, everything seems a little more difficult. Once I get making a few putts again, get the ball rolling, then your confidence gets up as well.
Q. Do you enjoy an event like this now or is there still too much pressure to perform?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I'm really looking forward to the rest of the week. It's a great course. I feel like I can do well around here. I think I'm sort of getting used to the pressure now. I will just treat it like a normal tournament. You still have to hit the same shots and play the same golf and see what happens.
Q. You've always had an excellent record. St. Andrews was played in October and usually in quite bad weather. Does the wind eliminate a lot of the field?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I think a lot of players would like to see a little bit more wind. It would sort of bring the better ball striking guys out and instead somebody -- if there is no wind and you're not hitting well, you can still manage to get it around. I think a better wind would really bring the best players out, so I'm looking forward to it. Obviously, I play a lot of links golf, obviously at St. Andrews and so on, so maybe a bit of that experience can help me this week.
Q. Do you feel you can go out and attack, or is it more going to be a case of sort of stay there or thereabouts until the end (inaudible)?
RETIEF GOOSEN: There are some holes you feel like you can attack. There are few holes on the course when you stand on the tee it just looks like there is nothing out there, the 1st hole and the 10th hole, especially, and the 9th, those are holes that feels like there's not much out there to try and aim at but the rest of the course is set up generously. If you lay back (inaudible) you give yourself a longer second shot, but if you hit a driver into the narrow areas or a (inaudible) you get rewarded with a shorter shot into the green. So the course is really how you feel and how your game is. If you play really well, it feels like you can just hit anything out there.
Q. How do you feel right now? Do you feel the driver may come out?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't think the driver will come out as much here as it was at the U.S. Open. It's not playing nearly as long, obviously, but once the wind starts blowing you're going to have no choice on some of the holes but to bring out the driver.
Q. How do you feel about leaving the courses the way they are rather than trying to lengthen them?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yes, I think everybody is sort of tired of every course getting lengthened and adding 500 yards or something. I think courses should just stay the way it is. The game is here to made birdies. If it's really bad weather, they won't make birdies. I think that's what we saw at the U.S. Open. The weather wasn't good. The guys couldn't reach the fairways. At the end, this is the way it is, and when we have windy conditions, the score is going to be high. If we don't, it's going to be low. I think they should leave it the way it is. People come out to see some birdies and see some good golf, not to see guys chopping around making 9s and 10s.
Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey
SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.
The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.
Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.
It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.
“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”
Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.
According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.
“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”
Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.
And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.
As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.
He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.
“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”
If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.
Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.
“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”
Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.
Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.
“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.
Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.
Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1
SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.
After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.
With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.
“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.
“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”
Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'
SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.
“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”
On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”
Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”
Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.
“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.”
Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines
SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.
The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.
Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.
Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.
Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:
• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10
• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1
• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1