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Retief Goosen feeling confident again

Winless on the PGA Tour for almost three years, twice U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen has renewed confidence in his game for this week’s New Orleans Classic.

The smooth-swinging South African tied for second at the weather-delayed WGC-CA Championship in Miami on Monday and is in optimistic mood with the year’s first major, the April 10-13 Masters, just around the corner.

“It’s nice to get the game going a little bit,” Goosen told reporters after finishing one stroke behind Geoff Ogilvy of Australia at Doral Golf Resort & Spa.

“It’s a pity I couldn’t have had just one shot better, but overall I’m very happy.

“This was my fifth event in a row and I was determined to keep going to get my game in shape,” added the 39-year-old after posting his first top-10 on the 2008 PGA Tour.

“I don’t like to practise a lot so I felt playing a lot was the only way to get my game back into shape.”

Goosen, U.S. Open champion at Southern Hills in 2001 and in 2004, says better putting over the last month has been the pivotal factor in his improved game.

“I changed my putting a little bit about three weeks ago and then last week at Bay Hill I actually started to putt a little bit better,” he said, referring to his tie for 14th at Bay Hill where he closed with successive 68s.

“If you can make putts, you can score and that’s what I did this week. I made a few good putts and just came up one short, really.

“My putting has definitely improved a lot and also my chipping. I still need to work on the driving a little bit but overall things are getting pretty good. I’m really looking forward to the Masters.”

Goosen, whose last PGA Tour victory came at the 2005 International, faces a strong field this week at the Pete Dye-designed TPC Louisiana where five of the world’s top 20 are in action.

Fourth-ranked American Steve Stricker heads the list, along with compatriots Jim Furyk (ninth), Stewart Cink (13th) and Masters champion Zach Jonson (20th), plus Ireland’s British Open winner Padraig Harrington (11th).

American Nick Watney defends the title he won by three shots last year after holding off compatriot Ken Duke in a last-day duel.

Watney became the third successive winner of the New Orleans Classic, after fellow Americans Chris Couch and Tim Petrovic, to claim his maiden title at the event.

The tournament starts on Thursday.


March 26, 2008

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