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Top South Africans to tee up at Fancourt

Retief Goosen is relishing his return to this week’s South African Airways Open a decade after he won the second oldest national Open in golf. And he would love nothing more than to win before the start of a new year in which he has focused on claiming another Major.

Goosen will tee it up at the Links at Fancourt from Thursday in a field including Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Tim Clark, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.

"It's been great being back home and playing in front my home crowd again," Goosen said of a return to local fairways that has seen him play possibly the most competitive golf in South Africa in years.

But even the double US Open champion has some concerns about the challenge that awaits in playing a notoriously difficult Links course.

Of the last two professional tournaments the Sunshine Tour hosted at the Links, the winner was the only player in the field to be under-par.

"It's a tough layout. You have to be driving well to play well on it, and that's one area of my game where I've been struggling lately. I read about the Sunshine Tour event they had at the Links a few months ago, where 80 was a good score. It will be a good challenge."

As he prepares to wrap up another successful year in which he was again a force in the Majors, Goosen says this is the one area of the game he wants to focus on in 2006.

"I would love to win another Major. There are not too many players out there who have won three or more Majors. I had my chances this year," he said of a season where he finished in the top 10 in three of the four Majors, with a tied 11th in the US Open the only blemish.

There will also be a few other changes in the Goosen household in 2006, most notably the start of school.

"The kids have been travelling with us a lot, but school starts next year so that will be a bit of a change," he says.

However, one thing certain not to change is Goosen's penchant for showing no emotion on the course. Something he refuses to change.

"You can't please everyone," he says of the public's desire to see their heroes win and have great personalities.

"But you know what?" he adds. "They used to say the same about Hogan."

Clark is back after a lucrative two weeks in which he took part in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Tiger Woods’s exclusive Target World Challenge. Els won last week's dunhill championship in only his second tournament back from a five-month layoff due to knee surgery.

December 14, 2005

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