Peers Speak Up for The Quiet Man

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The Quiet Man sits in his chair, flanked to his right by an official moderator. He resides slightly above his audience on a small platform, looking down as they try to get him to speak.
 
He does speak; usually three or four sentences at a time. Invariably, a question concerning respect will arise. And the Quiet Man will answer.
 
Retief Goosen
Retief Goosen has five career PGA Tour victories and at least one each year from 2001-04.
He will say something like: Its your problem if you overlook me, like he did at The Players Championship this year. Or he might respond, like he did at the Masters: No, it doesnt, not at all, when asked if it hurts his feeling that the media talks of a Big 4 and not a Big 5. Or he might just say: I dont really worry about it, like he did at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship.
 
Just about wherever Retief Goosen goes, he gets questioned about a perceived lack of respect ' in comparison to the top 4-ranked players in the world.
 
Certainly, he doesnt have the charisma of Tiger Woods. He doesnt have the popularity of Phil Mickelson. He doesnt have the worldly appeal of countryman Ernie Els. And he doesnt have the ability to regularly dominate like Vijay Singh.
 
He is simply who he is. Hes a soft spoken, demure and, at times, ignored individual. Hes the fifth man in whats billed as a Big 4 band. For the most part he sits in the shadows, comfortably devoid of attention. But occasionally, he plays his instrument more brilliantly than any of the others ' usually on the biggest stage.
 
Im not really all that bothered about (being overlooked), said Goosen, who will defend his U.S. Open title this week at Pinehurst. I go out there to play my game, and hopefully at the end of the week I win a tournament and that will take care of itself.
 
For as reticent as he is in personality, his resume speaks volumes.
 
He is who he is. Hes a two-time U.S. Open champion, and the reigning title holder. Hes a two-time Order of Merit champion on the European Tour. Hes a winner of more than 20 events around the world. Hes the fifth-ranked player in the world.
 
While he feels a little ill at ease in discussing his accomplishments or his abilities, his peers are quick to praise him ' and defend him.
 
Hes one of the best players in the world, said Woods. You know that if hes in contention, hes never going backwards. Hes always going to keep where hes at, if not go forward. Hes a tough person to beat come major championship time, because he doesnt make a lot of mistakes. And hes one of the best putters out here, too ' he makes everything.
 
Just one of those guys who just goes about his business, just doesnt draw any attention; but hes always there. Any time he tees it up he seems to be in contention.
 
Hes one of the best in the world, said Singh. You dont win two U.S. Opens by being a mug, you know. He can play. When hes on, theres nobody better. Hes just very underrated. He doesnt say much which is why people dont hear of him. But hes one of the best in the world.
 
When the courses get tough, he manages to get around. Hes just an extremely good putter in those types of conditions, said Sergio Garcia.
 
You know, hes a great guy, too. Im fortunate enough to be a fairly good friend of his. You know, hes a really funny guy when he gets going. I really enjoy spending time with him.
 
Hes pretty awesome ' strong player, said Adam Scott. I played the final round with him in China (at the Johnnie Walker Classic) and I started with a five-shot lead. After three holes it was a two-shot lead. I mean, he hit some of the most beautiful long-iron shots Ive ever seen that day. I got the upper hand on him in the end, but, I mean, hes phenomenal, really. Hes so solid. Put those long clubs in his hand, he looks so pure.
 
Possibly by you guys but certainly not by us, responded Darren Clarke when asked if Goosen was overlooked. He's one of the best players in the world. He's won two U.S. Opens. You've got to play some to win a couple of those. He's a world-class player.
 
Winning majors every couple of years is a really high standard ' (hes) last year's U.S. Open champion. I would say there's not a top four, there's a top 5, exclaimed Padraig Harrington.
 
I think looking at a guy like Retief is kind of like a stranger looking at Manhattan; you don't realize how tall the buildings are until you go there, said Joey Sindelar. Retief is a long hitter with a beautiful, fabulous, slow swing and nobody even talks about him. It's like ' it's amazing.
 
You guys don't talk about him too much, Els said to a room full of media members earlier this year. He's obviously got the game. He's proven that; he's won Tour Championships and U.S. Opens and who knows what. He's won everything. He's done just about everything, too, already. He's been No. 1 in Europe and he's done what he has to do to be a top-ranked player.
 
I don't know; I've got to ask you guys, why you guys don't write about him, because we regard him as definitely a real star player.
 
And that kind of peer respect ' along with winning ' means more to Goosen than he could ever say.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst