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: 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.
STEWART McDOUGAL: Retief, thank you very much.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.
Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.
He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.
Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.
The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.
''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''
Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.
''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.
Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.
“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”
Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.
Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.
Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.
Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.
“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”
Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.
“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.
This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."