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Retief Goosen named South African Golfer of the Year

Retief Goosen fetched the prestigious Golfer of the Year award for 2004 at The Compleat Golfer Annual Awards Dinner, held at Vodacom World of Golf in Johannesburg on Monday evening.

It was fitting recognition for Goosen's most memorable season to date, in which he won four titles around the world, including his second US Open title in four years.

In an acceptance speech read by his brother Phillip, Goosen singled out his triumph at the treacherous Shinnecock Hills layout as the highlight of his season and thanked Ernie Els, his playing partner in the final round, for his support.

Goosen's second victory of the year came just seven days later at the Smurfit European Open on the other side of the Atlantic, where as the new world number four he waltzed home by five shots.

A jet-ski accident temporarily derailed Goosen's season, but soon after his return came win number three at the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship, where he came from behind with a closing 64 to beat overnight leader Tiger Woods into second.

Goosen then crowned an already glorious season with a convincing victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, despite wrestling a flu virus for the duration of the tournament.

Matthew Kent and Ashleigh Simon both retained their titles as the Men's and Lady Amateurs of the Year respectively, while Louis Moolman claimed the Junior Golf of the year award.

Simon, 15, who represented South Africa in the inaugural Women's World Cup at the Links last week, was overcome with emotion as she thanked her family, coach and caddie for their support of her blossoming career.

The coveted Contribution to Golf Award was given to the late Bobby Locke, who, in the words of Dennis Hutchinson, who accepted the trophy on his behalf, 'put South Africa on the map'.

Locke won three Open Championship titles and nine South African Open titles from nine attempts between 1937 and 1955. For a period of 20 years, Locke was never beaten on home soil.

Another notable winner was Darren Fichardt, who claimed the 2003/04 Sunshine Tour's Final Order of Merit for the second time four years.

"This is a great honour, said Fichardt. "I'd like to thank Johan Immelman, I think he's done a great job since he took over and the Tour seems to be going from strength to strength. I love coming back to play here."

Sweden's Johan Edfors became the first foreigner to win the Rookie of the Year title, while James Kingston took the honours for lowest stroke average for 2003/04.

Former Southern Africa PGA Tour chief executive, Denis Bruyns was rewarded for his tireless work in growing the game of golf in South Africa by being presented the award for the year's best Contribution to the Golf Industry.

Co-presenter Dale Hayes was caught by surprise when he was awarded the first Honorary Membership of the South African Junior Golf Foundation by SAGF Chairman Badenhorst-Schnetler.

 

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