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Goosen made life member of European Tour

Retief Goosen has been made an honorary life member of the European Tour in recognition of his outstanding achievements during 2001, the tour announced on Monday.

Not only did the South African win his first career major, the U.S. Open at Southern Hills, but a further two titles in Europe helped him on his way to last year's European Tour order of merit crown.

"Retief's outstanding record in 2001 speaks volumes for his ability to play world-class golf on the international stage," European Tour executive director Ken Schofield said in a statement.

"Moreover, the manner in which he won the playoff to capture his first major championship at Southern Hills Country Club showed that he possesses the courage of a true champion.

"We are delighted that he has accepted this honorary life membership."

Goosen's triumph at the U.S. Open was certainly the highlight of his year as he confirmed his place among the game's elite by beating American Mark Brooks in an 18-hole playoff.

But he had to summon up great mental strength to win the title after wasting his chance of victory in regulation play when he three-putted the final green.

Goosen, 33, said on Monday he was "delighted" to receive honorary life membership of the European Tour.

"I have always enjoyed playing on the European Tour and it was a wonderful feeling to win the Volvo order of merit for the first -- but hopefully not the last -- time in 2001," he said in a statement.

"I have always felt very much at home in Europe, wife Tracy is English and we have a home close to the European Tour headquarters at Wentworth.

"We have many great friends on this tour and the competition at the moment has never been tougher."

If anything, though, Goosen's career seems to be heading for even greater things.

"The Goose", as he is popularly known, ended last year by partnering compatriot Ernie Els to team victory in the World Cup of Golf in Japan.

He then launched his 2002 season in brilliant style, breaking the course record for Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Perth with a third-round 63 on his way to winning last month's Johnnie Walker Classic.

His third-round display left the rest of the field trailing in his wake by a staggering 13 strokes as he set a European Tour record for a 54-hole lead.

The previous mark was a 10-shot cushion -- achieved by Tiger Woods in the 2000 U.S. Open, Tony Jacklin in the 1974 Scandinavian Open and Ken Brown in the 1984 Glasgow Open.

Goosen's victory lifted him to a career-high seventh in the world rankings, and also returned him to the top of the European money list.

He then won his second title in eight days by triumphing in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Sun City in his native South Africa earlier this month, his first success on home soil since winning the 1995 South African Open.

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