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.
Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown
There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.
Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.
She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.
It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.
Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.
"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”
Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.
Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.
Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.
“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”
Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.
“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”
The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.
“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”
Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.
He picked up his clubs three times.
That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.
This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.
Not that he was concerned, of course.
Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.
“It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”
At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.
“I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”
Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.
Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.
“There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”
Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.
In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.
That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.
“He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.
“I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.
Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”
So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.
Despite results, Thomas loves links golf
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.
Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.
Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.
“I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”
Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.
He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.
“I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.
“With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”