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Praise for new South African sporting hero

A who's who of South African sporting heroes welcomed the newest addition to their number on Tuesday following Retief Goosen's U.S. Open play-off triumph.

"Simply brilliant," said national cricket captain Shaun Pollock of Goosen's two-shot victory over 18 holes on Monday against American Mark Brooks for his first major title.

Goosen kept his nerve after missing a putt from 18 inches the day before at the 18th which would have secured the crown.

Four-handicapper Pollock added: "His whole approach was incredible. As sportsmen we have defining moments that shape the rest of our careers and our lives, and this is definitely his.

"I set my alarm for 0100 and watched the closing holes of the last round. When he missed that putt on the last I felt terrible for him, I worried about how he could come back from that. But he was awesome."

Pollock's vice-captain, Mark Boucher, was similarly moved. "I woke the neighbours up with my shouting. His putting was incredible. We all miss some little ones but he was also holing them from two miles. I was so proud watching him," Boucher said.

National rugby union captain Andre Vos, who plays off a nine handicap, also followed Goosen's progress on television.

"I'm just so pleased for him, and for the fact that we now have another top golfer as well as Ernie (Els)," Vos said.

"The way he kept his composure under that kind of pressure, and after what had happened, was inspiring. It's a fantastic achievement for him."

Loose forward Rassie Erasmus said he watched the play-off at team mate Ollie le Roux's house in Durban where the national squad are preparing for the second Test match against France on Saturday.

"We were cheering him all the way. He showed fantastic nerve and character, and it gives us our third U.S. Open champion which is more than any other country outside America. He just played magnificent golf," Erasmus said.

Goosen also dominated the front and back page headlines of the nation's newspapers.

"SA's Golden Goose takes U.S. Open and 7 Million Rand" proclaimed the Johannesburg Star on the front page before adding on the back page "Golden Goose irons out Southern Hills."

Cape Town's Cape Times devoted half its front page to the man who originally heralds from Pietersburg, some 2000 kilometres to the north.

"Golden Goose joins the Greats of SA Golf" ran the headline while the story reminded readers that Goosen was just the third South African to win the U.S. Open after Gary Player (1965) and Els (1994 and 1997).

Even the national Business Day ran the story on its front page under the headline "Second time lucky as Goosen finally clinches U.S. Open title." Goosen's victory was also the back page lead under the headline "The Goose strikes US Gold."


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