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Rested Retief Goosen returns to PGA Tour

Refreshed after his longest break from the game, Retief Goosen makes his first PGA Tour appearance of the year at this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

The twice U.S. Open champion has taken seven weeks off in the last nine, including a spell of five weeks without even touching a club.

"For the first time in my life, I put the clubs away for five weeks," South African Goosen told reporters at La Costa Resort and Spa on Tuesday. "I just needed a break."

The world number three, who won his 13th European Tour title at the South African Open last December, opted to miss the PGA Tour's season-opening Mercedes Championships in Hawaii.

"I was in South Africa for two and a half months and I just couldn't get myself to leave there and fly to Hawaii," he said. "It's been a really good holiday for me, and now I'm looking forward to this week."

Since the South African Open, Goosen has played in two European Tour events, finishing sixth at the Dubai Desert Classic and missing the cut at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia two weeks ago.

"I started off pretty well in Dubai but my game gradually got worse as the week went on," he said. "The Johnnie Walker was even worse. I'm hoping to get a good start this week."

Goosen, who faces Britain's Paul Broadhurst in Wednesday's first round, has good memories of La Costa after beating another Briton, Ian Poulter, over 20 holes to secure third place last year.

"I had a good match with Ian and we both played extremely well," the 37-year-old said. "Hopefully I can repeat that form this week.

"But I really threw it away in the semi-final against Chris DiMarco," he added of his 2&1 defeat. "I should have won that match."

Goosen, who went beyond the second round last year for the first time in six appearances at the tournament, likes the look of a dry La Costa layout for this week.

"The last few years it has been too soft for me," he said. "I'm somebody who gets a lot of spin on the ball and it was difficult to keep the ball from spinning off the greens.

"This week, it looks as though it's going to be better than it's been the last few years. With it playing more firm, I can hit much more shots into the greens. It's going to be fun."

February 22, 2006


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