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Goosen looking to break £2million barrier

Retief Goosen, the 2001 order of merit winner, is determined to lift this week's Volvo Masters trophy to become the first golfer to earn two million pounds ($2.9 million) in a European season.

Goosen, 32, leads the standings with 1,741,765 pounds going into the final event of the year, but he must complete victory on Sunday to break through the two million-pound barrier.

This week's winner at the Montecastillo Golf Club will earn a check for 333,330 pounds, while second place, worth 222,220 pounds, would leave Goosen tantalizingly short of his target.

"I really want to become the first person to go beyond two million pounds on the European Tour in one season," Goosen said after playing in the Volvo Masters pro-am on Wednesday.

"That's my goal for the week -- to win and round things off properly. It would be the perfect end to what has been a fantastic year for me."

Goosen, the U.S. Open champion, wrapped up this year's order of merit with a playoff victory over England's Steve Webster in the Madrid Open two weeks ago.

The South African admitted he was especially pleased to secure top spot in the money list with his third victory of the year.

"It was a great feeling [clinching the order of merit] and to pull it off in that way was extra special," Goosen said.

"It really has been a great year for me and it will be tough to match it in Europe next year.

"I've still got seven years to go before I draw level with Monty, but I think he's pretty safe on that!" he joked, referring to the seven successive European money list titles won by Scotland's Colin Montgomerie between 1993-99.

Goosen said it would be virtually impossible to improve on a year during which he won his first major championship, the U.S. Open at Southern Hills, secured the European order of merit and got married to his long-standing girlfriend Tracy.

"From a personal point of view, this year couldn't have gone much better," Goosen said. "But I haven't really had much of a chance to get out much this year because I've been playing so much golf. And I'm playing tournament golf over the next six weeks so, when the Christmas break finally arrives, I'm really going to need it!"

Goosen said he planned to play more on the lucrative U.S. Tour next year, without sacrificing the amount of time he generally spends in Europe.

"I need to play in a minimum of 11 events in Europe and 15 in the United States, plus a few more in South Africa and other parts of the world," Goosen said.

"But I can't see myself playing in just 11 tournaments in Europe and, with some of them co-sanctioned by both the European and U.S. Tours, I think I will play in roughly 26 events worldwide next year."

Apart from Goosen's bid for victory this week, he will also be aiming to capture the 2001 stroke-average crown in the European Tour's Reuters Performance Data.

The South African, with a scoring average this season of 69.31, narrowly trails Irishman Padraig Harrington's impressive 69.28, with both players having completed 74 competitive rounds.

Low scoring could well be a feature of the week with calm and sunny weather forecast and the par-72 Montecastillo layout in excellent shape.

"This is the final event of the year and the course is in the best condition I've ever seen it," Goosen said. "But the rough around the greens is pretty thick so it could be a little tricky if you are off target with your approaches."

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