Goosen Flying High in Ireland


Fresh off his dramatic win over Phil Mickelson at the 104th U.S. Open, Retief Goosen gets back to his roots on the European Tour and headlines the field for the Smurfit European Open held at the legendary Arnold Palmer designed K Club in Kildare, Ireland.
Goosen, who used a stunning 12 one putts in the final round at Shinnecock to secure the second major of his career, will be joined by one of the strongest fields of the year as the tour continues to heat up in preparation for the Open Championship in just two weeks.
The 35-year-old South African has faired well in this tournament with a second-place finish in 2002, where he missed out of a playoff with Michael Campbell by a single stroke. He also had another top 10 in 2001 with a tie for 6th finish.
With an increase in prize money set for the 2004 event, a slew of Europe's top talent will be gunning for not only the unassuming Goosen but also the $445,000 first-place check.
Among them is one of Ireland's favorite sons in Padraig Harrington, who currently sits just one position back of Goosen in the world golf rankings. Goosen moved from ninth to seventh after his win at Shinnecock Hils and in the process hopped over Harrington, as the Irishman finished in a disappointing tie for 31st .
Harrington, however, hopes that the familiar territory will be enough to get him back on track on the tour he plays so well on. Though never winning on the PGA Tour - despite a call close this past month at the Buick Classic where he lost in a playoff to Sergio Garcia - Harrington has laid claimed to victory on the European Tour with regularity.
The 32-year-old Harrington, who has eight career European Tour titles, has been crowned a champion in each of the last five years, including the Omega Hong Kong Open at the beginning of this season. He also notched two victories in both 2003 and 2000.
Others in the field this week are a group of European Tour regulars who are coming off poor performances at the U.S. Open. Darren Clarke, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose - all of whom missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills - will be being trying to get back into form as they prepare for Royal Troon in Scotland.
Phillip Price of Wales is the returning champion and will be back to defend the title he won last year in dramatic fashion by making birdie on the 72nd hole to edge out Mark McNulty and Alastair Forsyth by a shot.
The K Club recently renamed their two courses, from the North and South to the Palmer and Smurfit courses, both in honor of the designer and the yearly tournament held at the club. The Palmer course will play host to the 2006 Ryder Cup matches.
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - Smurfit European Open