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Goosen looking forward to winter break

Reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen admits he is exhausted after a hectic golfing year but has decided to play in this week's Players' Championship at Royal Cape Golf Club before taking a well-earned rest.

The 32-year-old Goosen will be the main attraction in the field, along with double U.S. Open winner Ernie Els, when the Sunshine Tour event starts on Thursday.

"All this travelling I've been doing has left me absolutely exhausted," Goosen told his official website

"I'm really tired and have had to withdraw from Tiger's (Woods) tournament (the Williams World Challenge in mid-December).

"I really need to take a two or three week holiday somewhere, away from cameras and autograph books. Maybe I'll go skiing or fishing."

The big-hitting South African has been one of the best players in the game during 2001, clinching his first major title at Southern Hills in June before winning twice in Europe on his way to topping the season-ending money list.

He became the first non-European to head the European Tour order of merit since Australia's Greg Norman in 1982 and then partnered his good friend Els to victory in the World Cup of Golf in Japan last month.

Since then, the world No. 9 has finished third in the Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii, five shots behind winner Tiger Woods, and tied for eighth in the Sun City Challenge on Sunday back on home soil.

He has found his hectic playing schedule and the resulting jet-lag a difficult problem to overcome.

"Jet-lag is something all players have to deal with, and it can really put you out of rhythm if you get affected by it," Goosen said.

"I think you have to give yourself enough time to get over it, along with carefully planning your body clock so that there is less chance of being affected."

Goosen and world No. 4 Els are the star attractions for this week's Southern Africa Tour event but three other players will also be out to make their mark.

Reigning Players' champion Trevor Immelman of South Africa, who beat Els into second place to win last year's title, will want to mount an impressive defence in his home province.

Fellow South African Rory Sabbatini has played virtually all of his professional golf on the U.S. Tour and, for most South African fans, this week will provide a first opportunity for them to watch his big hitting and aggressive approach to the game.

Englishman David Dixon, who finished as leading amateur at this year's British Open at Royal Lytham, will be making his first appearance as a professional on the Sunshine Tour.

But, as reigning South African amateur matchplay champion, he is no stranger to South African golf and knows the Royal Cape layout fairly well.

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