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Retief Goosen looking to find form in Qatar

South African Retief Goosen, who has dropped out of the world's top 20 after an indifferent season last year, is looking to get his career back on track when he defends his Qatar Masters title this week.

"I had a great start in 2007, it was good to start the new season on a winning note in Qatar," the 38-year-old told reporters on Tuesday.

"But then I had a lot of difficulties with my game. I was always worried about my swing, my putting."

Goosen, who in the last nine months has gone from eighth to 28th in the world, has taken steps to halt his slide down the rankings.

"I am working hard on my swing and have hired a swing coach," said the twice former U.S. Open champion.

"My only aim is to play good golf," added Goosen, sporting a new-look beard.

He faces strong competition for the first prize of $416,660 at the Doha Golf Club against the cream of European golf.

Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Nick Dougherty, Ian Poulter, Niclas Fasth and Colin Montgomerie will be out to stop Goosen becoming the first double winner in the 11th edition of the tournament.

World number eight Adam Scott of Australia is the highest-ranked player in the field while Scott Verplank will hope to make his Qatar debut a memorable one.

Verplank, who became the first American to hit a Ryder Cup hole in one at the K Club in Ireland in 2006, will receive the keys to a $150,000 yacht if he can repeat the feat here.

Organizers will hand over a 26-foot luxury cruiser to any player who aces the par-three 17th.

"We'd love to be able to hand over the yacht," said Qatar Golf Association chairman Hassan Al Nuami.

The $2.5 million European Tour event starts on Thursday.


January 23, 2008

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