Goosen Feeling a Bit Underappreciated

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PINEHURST, N.C. -- Two U.S. Open titles and another 20 victories around the world should be enough to make Retief Goosen a star. Yet when he arrived at Pinehurst No. 2 this week, the 36-year-old South African found little evidence to support that.
 
'There's times that I feel like, yeah, you've won a couple of U.S. Opens and there's not a picture of you anywhere or nothing has been mentioned or anything like that,' Goosen said Wednesday. 'And you feel like, well, in a way, it makes you more determined to try and win another one and see what happens next time you some back, if there's a picture somewhere.'
 
His fellow players certainly appreciate Goosen and his performance last year at Shinnecock Hills. Despite brutal playing conditions -- 28 players failed to break 80 in the final round, including Ernie Els -- Goosen completed a steady 1-over 71 to beat Phil Mickelson by two shots.
 
That, coupled with his victory at Southern Hills in 2001, makes him one of four two-time champs in the field this week.
 
'It's always nice coming back as the defending champion, and I'm looking forward to this week,' Goosen said. 'Hopefully, come the weekend, I'll have a chance.'
 
It might not be enough to change his reputation. Perhaps it's Goosen's persona on the course, where the calm, relaxed demeanor that serves him so well in major championships makes him appear boring. He rarely smiles during competition, and when he strolled off the 18th green at No. 2 earlier this week following a practice round, some fans wondered just who he was.
 
'I don't know what the guys want me to do,' Goosen said. 'Do they want me to do handstands when I make a putt and all that kind of stuff? You know, I go out there and try and win a tournament, and try and play my best and see if I can win.'
 
Even one of his greatest triumphs was lost a bit amid the complaints and controversy over the setup at Shinnecock. Instead of celebrating Goosen's wonderful play, many people remember the diabolical green at the par-3 seventh hole, where few were able to hold the putting surface and the USGA was forced to water it for every other group the last day.
 
And this week, Tiger Woods is trying to win back-to-back majors for the first time since 2002, when he captured the Masters and U.S. Open. Earlier this season, Woods won the Masters for the fourth time, and he arrives at Pinehurst with his game in good shape.
 
'The better players just seem to come to the top come the weekend,' Goosen said. 'Saturday, Sunday, they creep their way up. You'll probably have somebody the first couple of rounds leading that nobody has heard of, and then on the weekend, the better players just seem to rise to the top.'
 
Even the USGA understands that Goosen has been pushed aside this week with all the talk about course setup.
 
'I'm disappointed in a sense that Retief's remarkable performance was overshadowed,' USGA executive director David Fay said.
 
Goosen just needs to do it again.
 
'I like the tougher golf courses, where you have to grind out a little bit more, work hard for par,' he said. 'I prefer this type of golf, really, to a golf course that you know you need to shoot 26-under to win.'
 
Related links:
  • Full Field Scores - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst

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