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Goosen to play more in US in 2002

Spurred by his success on the European Tour, Retief Goosen has decided to buy a house in Orlando in order to compete in more American PGA events.

Goosen on Sunday became the first South African in 26 years to win the European Order of Merit by winning the Madrid Open. Although there are two tournaments left on the European calendar, nobody is close enough to catch Goosen, who earned R23 million in Europe this year.

"I'm not complaining, but it is strange how everything just happened at once," Goosen said from his home in Surrey on Monday. "A few months ago my life looked completely different. It is a wonderful feeling to be only the third South African to win the Order of Merit."

Dale Hayes (1975) and Bobby Locke (1946, 1950 and 1954) were the only other South Africans who made it to the top of the European money list in their time.

"My success over the past year convinced me to play in more American events, but I will not neglect Europe and South Africa," Goosen said.

The South African bought a house in the prestigious golf resort Nona in Orlando, 300m from countryman Ernie Els's home.

"I'm planning to take part in 15 tournaments in America next year. I would like to first find my feet before making decisions about the American tour," Goosen said.

The 32-year old Goosen will next year again take part in 11 tournaments in Europe, but will only be playing in three events in South Africa. The first will be the Nedbank Challenge at the end of November, followed by the South African Open in Durban and the Alfred Dunhill Tournament in Houghton, both in January.

The South African seemed to struggle over the last few holes of his winning tournaments. On Sunday in Madrid he had to play three sudden-death holes to finally get the better of Englishman Steve Webster.

In the American Open he had to go a whole round extra after fluffing a sitter on the eighteenth in regulation play. And he left the door open for a brilliant victory by Sergio Garcia to win the Lancome Trophy in Paris by squandering a healthy lead over the last couple of holes.

"It is funny that my last couple of tournaments ended that way. It is not as if I cannot take the pressure. I felt no pressure and was not nervous at all. I'm actually getting used to these situations," Goosen said.

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