Retief Goosen

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Posted by sonny 03/26/2009 @ 08:11

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News headlines
Henrik Stenson, Retief Goosen have championship pedigree in group ... - Florida Times-Union
Henrik Stenson and Retief Goosen are two of the most accomplished players in the sport. Each enter today's final round with a chance to claim his first Players title. Both are in a six-way tie for second place at 6 under par for the tournament and five...
What they said: Retief Goosen - PGA Tour
RETIEF GOOSEN: You always want to be one or two shots better, don't you? Yeah, I had a poor finish. I had a perfect tee shot on the last. And I was stuck in between a hard 9 and soft 8. I went for a soft 8 and made a poor swing. Bad bogey on the last....
Woods falls behind Goosen, Watson at Quail Hollow -
By Sports Network Tiger Woods bogeyed two of his last three holes in the second round Friday at the Quail Hollow Championship to fall into a tie for third place behind co-leaders Retief Goosen and Bubba Watson. Goosen posted his second straight...
What they said: Retief Goosen - PGA Tour
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Retief Goosen, thanks for joining us here after your second consecutive round of 68 here at the Quail Hollow Championship. You won the Transitions Championship earlier this season and you're off to a great start here....
International golfers reap harvest of US championships - Atlanta Journal Constitution
In 2001, Retief Goosen, the implacable South African, beat Mark Brooks in a playoff at Southern Hills. And three years later, on the crusty course that nobody else could play, Goosen won again at Shinnecock Hills. By now, the surge was on....
What they said: Retief Goosen - PGA Tour
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, nice to get around. I didn't drive it very well today, so obviously with the rough not being as high I managed to get away with a few bad shots. I finished off with a couple of good pars, struggled on the last couple holes a little...
Gillespie: Five things I know - The State
On NBC, short-game guru Dave Pelz demonstrated the difference between Stenson's shot to the par-3 13th hole (for birdie) and Retief Goosen's (rolled off into the water): the length of a putter. Columbia's Jonathan Byrd, paired with Goosen,...
The Players, Stenson (Plus Some Tiger) -
So with the tournament wide open, about a half-dozen players looked to be eventual winners: Retief Goosen, a two-time major champion, Ben Crane, John Mallinger, Ian Poulter and Henrick Stenson. Of those, Crane's notoriety came from his deliberate play,...
UPI NewsTrack Sports - United Press International
CHARLOTTE, NC, May 1 (UPI) -- Retief Goosen and Bubba Watson capitalized on late problems suffered by Tiger Woods to share the lead Friday after two rounds of the Quail Hollow Championship. Woods was out front by two shots following the opening round...
Curt Sanders learns to watch, enjoy life on the tour -
Sanders, 37, figured he'd breeze through the back nine alone, no big deal. Instead, he enjoyed two hours that will be hard to forget. Nine holes with two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen. Goosen's compression made an impression on Sanders....

Retief Goosen

Retief Goosen at the 2008 Players Championship

Retief Goosen (born 3 February 1969) is a South African professional golfer who has been in the top ten in the Official World Golf Rankings for over 250 weeks between 2001 and 2007. His main achievements have been two U.S. Open wins (in 2001 and 2004), and heading the European Tour Order of Merit (money list) in 2001 and 2002.

Goosen was born in Pietersburg (now Polokwane), South Africa. He is the son of Theo Goosen, a local real estate agent and amateur golfer. He introduced the game of golf to Retief at an early age. Theo took a strict approach to parenting. "Look, I never made life easy for my kids," said Theo "We never spoiled them. We never pleasurized them." Goosen even admits that his father put pressure on him. When Goosen was fifteen he was golfing with his friend Henri Potgieter at Pietersburg Golf Club. They were playing through a small drizzle when lightning struck. Henri was knocked from his feet and when he stood back up saw Retief lying on the ground on his back. Henri retold the story to Golf World "I wanted to know his reaction. What I did see was his golf clubs and his golf bag. Then I saw him lying on his back. His tongue was down his throat and his eyes were backward, and he was breathing weird. He had no clothes on; they'd been burned from his body. I remember picking up his spectacles. I didn't know what to do. It looked like he was dead. I was screaming for help. Fortunately, there were guys teeing off on the 12th hole. They came running toward us. From then on, I can't remember much. They picked him up and put him in a car." Goosen's shoes had disintegrated from his feet, his underwear and watch band had melted to his body. He was unable to put his shoes on for weeks afterwards. He recovered enough to grab another set of clubs and take up the game a few weeks later. Goosen doesn't remember the events that happened, but his father took his son's survival as a sign from God as good things to come.

Goosen's second major title came at the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. The USGA had prepared extremely tough conditions which were later argued by players as "unfair." The final-round scoring average of 78.7 was the second-highest since World War II, with only Goosen and Phil Mickelson finishing under par. He eventually won by two strokes over Mickelson who both shot 1-over-par 71. Goosen had 11 one-putt greens on Sunday and 31 one-putts for the championship. He only needed 24 putts on the day in what is remebered as one of the most clutch putting performances in U.S. Open history.

2004 was the start of the "Big Five Era" which is used in describing the era in golf where Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, and Phil Mickelson dominated the game of golf. The five switched up and down the top five positions in the Official World Golf Rankings; most notably Singh's derailing of Woods as the number one golfer in the world. The five stayed, for the most part in the top five spots from 2004 till the start of 2007. Nine majors where won between them many fighting against each other head to head.

Goosen has been a consistent player: he has won internationally every year since 1995, and also won a PGA Tour event every year from 2001 to 2005. Additionally, he has spent a long period of time in the top 5 of the Official World Golf Rankings, and in 2006 reached a career-best third place, but since late 2006 he has had a dip in performance.

2007 was an average season for Goosen's standards; a victory at the Qatar Masters in January - when he finished birdie-eagle for the win, looked to be a sign of things to come along with being the European Tour player of the month in January. Goosen posed a threat on the final day at The Masters. He held the lead till a bogey on the par-three twelve, Goosen failed to rebound paring each of his six remaining holes. He finished tied for second, two behind Zach Johnson. However after the Masters Goosen's best finish throughout the rest of the year was a tie for 15th at the BMW Asian Open, and he ended 2007 having slumped down to 26th in the world rankings.

Goosen's statistics on the PGA Tour at this time were surprisingly low. He was outside the top 100 in ball striking, greens in regulation, driving accuracy, distance, and putting. But this was due mainly, Goosen said because of the swing changes he has made, his hiring a swing coach for the first time in his career, and how he had lost all confidence in his game. But, his game was on the rise in 2009, with two wins on two major tours early on in the year.

At the start of 2008, Goosen withdrew from the Qatar Masters as defending champion due to problems with his vision after undergoing corrective laser surgey ten days before the tournament began. He was forced to return to his home in London, England for further treatment. In March, he showed a form that had left him for almost a year and resulted in a tie for second at the WGC-CA Championship. He putted exceptionally well thanks to his old Yes! putter he won both his U.S. Open titles with and named "Tracy" after his wife.

Before the tournament Goosen was ranked 40th in the world the lowest he had been ranked since 10 June 2001 (a week before the U.S. Open). In June 2008, he made controversial comments about fellow golfer Tiger Woods, alleging that Woods was faking the severity of his injuries at the 2008 U.S. Open. Goosen apologized for the comments saying he was not being serious when he made the claim. Late in the 2008 season Goosen replaced Vijay Singh because of injury in the Asian Tour's Iskandar Johor Open. Goosen won the the tournament for his only win of 2008. The win also extended his streak of winning a professional golf event every year since 1995.

Goosen won his second event in four worldwide starts on the Sunshine Tour, at the Africa Open on 18 January 2009, where he came from behind with a final round 65 on Sunday to win by one stroke over four players and take the trophy and the R 750,000 winner's check from the R 5,000,000 event. He then won his seventh PGA Tour title at the Transitions Championship in March 2009. He made only five bogeys all week on the tough Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Florida. He shot all four rounds under par, and finished at -8, to win by one stroke over Charles Howell III and Brett Quigley. Goosen credited Gary Player with inspiring him to re-dedicate himself to a new diet and fitness program. This win vaulted Goosen to number 22 in the Official World Golf Rankings, his highest position since November 2007.

Goosen is known for his extremely calm demeanor, a trait that has earned him the nickname "The Iceman" on the PGA Tour. He is also affectionately called "The Goose." The term unflappable is a term commonly connect with Retief because of his attitude on the course. Goosen's mother attributes her son's calm demeanor because of the effects left on Goosen after he was struck by lightning.

Goosen is now married with a son and daughter, and has homes in Ascot, Berkshire, England and Orlando, Florida, U.S. as well as retaining residence in Polokwane, South Africa.

He is friends with golf icon Gary Player and regularly plays in the Gary Player Invitational series to help raise funds for needy children in both South Africa and around the world.

Goosen's two U.S. Open wins are repeated here because the three major championships played in the U.S. have been part of the European Tour's schedule since 1998.

1Cancelled due to 9/11 DNP = Did not play QF, R16, R32, R64 = Round in which player lost in match play "T" = tied WD = withdrew NT = No Tournament Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

These figures are from the respective tour's official sites. Note that there is double counting of money earned (and wins) in the majors and World Golf Championships since they became official events on both tours.

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U.S. Open (golf)


The United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open, is the annual open golf tournament of the United States. It is the second of the four major championships in golf and is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. It is staged by the United States Golf Association (USGA) in mid-June, scheduled such that the final round is always played on the third Sunday, which is Father's Day. From 2008, it will also be an official money event on the Asian Tour, with 50% of Asian Tour members' earnings counting towards the Order of Merit.

The U.S. Open is staged at a variety of courses, set up in such a way that scoring is very difficult with a premium placed on accurate driving. U. S. Open play is characterized by tight scoring at or around par by the leaders, with the winner emerging at just under par. A U.S. Open course is seldom beaten severely, and there have been many over-par wins. Normally, an Open course is longer than normal and will have a high cut of rough (termed "Open rough" by the American press and fans), hilly greens (such as at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2005, which was described by Johnny Miller of NBC as "like trying to hit a ball on top of a VW Beetle"), and pinched fairways. Some courses that are attempting to get into the rotation for the U.S. Open will normally be rebuilt to have these features. Rees Jones is the most notable of the "Open Doctors" who take on these projects.

The first U.S. Open Championship was played on October 4, 1895, on a nine-hole course in Newport, Rhode Island. It was a 36-hole competition and was played in a single day. Ten professionals and one amateur entered. The winner was a 21-year-old Englishman named Horace Rawlins, who had arrived in the U.S. in January that year to take up a position at the host club. He received $150 cash out of a prize fund of $335, plus a $50 gold medal; his club received the Open Championship Cup trophy, which was presented by the USGA. In the beginning, the tournament was dominated by experienced British players until 1911, when John J. McDermott became the first native-born American winner. American golfers soon began to win regularly and the tournament evolved to become one of the four majors.

Throughout the modern history of the competition, the title has been won almost exclusively by players from the United States. Since 1950, players from only five nations other than the United States have won the championship, most notably South Africa, which has won five times since 1965.

A streak of four consecutive non-American winners occurred from 2004 to 2007 for the first time since 1910. These four players—South African Retief Goosen (2004), New Zealander Michael Campbell (2005), Australian Geoff Ogilvy (2006) and Argentine Ángel Cabrera (2007) —are all from countries in the Southern Hemisphere. No player from Europe has won since Tony Jacklin of England in 1970.

The 2008 edition of the Open ended in a tie between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, forcing an 18-hole playoff the following day. After completing 90 holes over five days, both players were still tied, marking only the third time in Open history that a winner was determined using sudden death. On the first sudden death hole (the seventh), Woods won the tournament with a par to defeat Mediate, who made a bogey. The victory made Woods the sixth player to win three or more U.S. Opens.

The U.S. Open is open to any professional, or to any amateur with an up-to-date USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4. Players (male or female) may obtain a place by being fully exempt or by competing successfully in qualifying. The field is 156 players.

About half of the field is made up of players who are fully exempt from qualifying. There are 17 full exemption categories, including winners of the U.S. Open for the last ten years and the other three majors for the last five years, the top 30 from the previous year's PGA Tour money list, the top 15 from the previous year's European Tour money list, and the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings as of two weeks before the tournament.

Potential competitors who are not fully exempt must enter the Qualifying process, which has two stages. Firstly there is Local Qualifying, which is played over 18 holes at over 100 courses around the United States. Many leading players are exempt from this first stage, and they join the successful local qualifiers at the Sectional Qualifying stage, which is played over 36 holes in one day at several sites in the U.S. and one each in Europe and Japan. There is no lower age limit and the youngest-ever qualifier was 15-year-old Tadd Fujikawa of Hawaii, who qualified in 2006.

The purse at the 2007 U.S. Open was $7 million, and the winner's share was $1.26 million. The PGA European Tour uses conversion rates at the time of the tournament to calculate the official prize money used in their Order of Merit rankings (€5,241,402 in 2007). In line with the other majors, winning the U.S. Open gives a golfer several privileges that make his career much more secure, if he is not already one of the elite players of the sport. U.S. Open champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors (the Masters, the Open Championship (British Open), and the PGA Championship) for the next five years, as well as the near-major Players Championship, and they are exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Open itself for 10 years. They may also receive a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, which is automatic for regular members. Non-PGA Tour members who win the U.S. Open have the choice of joining the PGA Tour either within 60 days of winning, or prior to the beginning of any one of the next five tour seasons.

The top 15 finishers at the U.S. Open are fully exempt from qualifying for the following year's Open, and the top eight are automatically invited to the following season's Masters.

Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus hold the record for the most U.S. Open victories, with four victories each. Hale Irwin is the oldest winner of the U.S. Open: he was &0000000000000045.00000045 years, &0000000000000015.00000015 days old when he won in 1990. The youngest winner of the U.S. Open is John McDermott who was 19 years 315 days old when he won in 1911. Jack Nicklaus, Lee Janzen, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk hold the record for the lowest score over 72 holes, which is 272. Tiger Woods holds the distinction of being the most strokes under par for 72 holes, he was 12 strokes under par (-12) when he won in 2000.

There is an extensive records section on the official site here.

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2001 U.S. Open Golf Championship


The 2001 United States Open Golf Championship was the 101st U.S. Open, played from June 14 to June 18, 2001 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The U.S. Open returned to Southern Hills for the first time since 1977, where Hubert Green appeared & won in his first major championship. Players complained that approach shots, landing in the middle of green in the 18th hole, could wind up 40 yards (37 m) away in the fairway after rolling back down the two-tiered putting surface. The USGA and Southern Hills officials raced to rectify the problem by feeding the green fertilizer to spur the growth of more grass, calling off the mowers and hand watering the green during the day.

Mark Brooks three-putted his way out of the lead on the 18th, playing two groups behind Retief Goosen. Goosen blasted his birdie putt within two feet of the 18th hole, but he then missed the putt for par, and ended up in a tie with Brooks. Goosen prevailed the next day in an 18-hole playoff. The purse was $5 million and Goosen earned $900,000. The tournament was also notable for breaking Tiger Woods's "Tiger Slam" run of consecutive major championship wins; Woods finished twelfth.

The 2001 U.S. Open Golf Championship was the third U.S. Open at Southern Hills and sixth major championship. Former champions were Tommy Bolt in 1958, and Hubert Green in 1977. Southern Hills had a history of hot championships with temperatures soaring above 90 degrees. In the 1977 U.S. Open, Hubert Green led by one shot with four holes to go when he was informed of a death threat against him, received by the FBI. Green decided to continue on and won the title by one stroke.

Severe thunderstorms halted play Thursday afternoon with only 66 players completing their rounds. South Africa's Retief Goosen completed an opening round of 66, four-under-par, to lead the way. Goosen resumed his unfinished round on three-under-par and raced to six-under, but bogeys at the 16th and 17th took the edge off his round. However, it was enough to earn him a one-stroke lead over Hale Irwin and Canadian Mike Weir with J. L. Lewis one stroke further back. Irwin, who won the last of his three U.S. Open titles in 1990, capped a three-under 67 with a birdie at the treacherous par-four 18th. Tiger Woods could only manage an opening round of 74, four-over-par, eight shots off the lead. Woods bogeyed the ninth, before recording his first birdie of the round at the 15th. But even that could not spark a revival in his fortunes as he bogeyed the last.

The delay created by Thursday's thunderstorms meant 33 players could not finish the second round on Friday, and had to play Saturday morning. The cut line was 146 with 79 players making the cut. Mark Brooks fired a six-under 64 Friday to grab a share of the lead. Retief Goosen, who led after the first round was completed Friday morning, and PGA Tour journeyman J. L. Lewis joined Brooks at four-under 136. Sergio García and Stewart Cink were tied for fourth at two-under par. Phil Mickelson and David Duval, players who briefly flirted with the lead during Woods' run at the Masters in April, were knotted at one-under after each posted 69s on Friday. Tiger Woods shot a 71, making the cut by one stroke.

Stewart Cink finished with a three-under 67 and a share of the third-round lead with Retief Goosen. Goosen, one of three leaders at the start of the day, parred each of the last nine holes despite a number of wayward shots down the stretch. The 32-year-old South African managed a 69 to push the leading total to five-under-par 205. Mark Brooks, a co-leader of Goosen's after a tournament-low 64 on Friday, shot even-par 70 to join Rocco Mediate and Sergio García in third place at four-under. Phil Mickelson, who ended the day three under, was the first big name to make a charge in the third round.

Retief Goosen missed a two-foot par putt at the 72nd hole to fall back into a tie with Mark Brooks, forcing an 18-hole playoff to decide the 101st U.S. Open champion. Brooks was packed and ready to leave the clubhouse when Goosen charged his 15-foot (4.6 m) birdie putt to clinch a two-shot victory two feet by the cup. Goosen, who moments earlier watched playing partner Stewart Cink miss an 18-inch (460 mm) putt for bogey, pushed his short par putt by the right edge of the cup. He managed to pull himself together and sink a short bogey putt on the way back to finish regulation alongside Brooks at four-under-par 276. When Goosen and Cink dialed it up to go to five-under, Brooks responded by two-putting for birdie at the par-five 13th. The lead was his after Cink drove into a creek for bogey at 13 and Goosen suffered his first three-putt of the championship at the 14th. Goosen, who stoically battled to hold on to a piece of the top spot all week, knocked his approach at the 15th to the back fringe and rolled in a 12-footer to return to minus-five with Brooks. Brooks' 200-yard (180 m) approach to 18 landed 40 feet (12 m) left of the right-side pin placement. His first putt was too hard and sped eight feet past the hole, and his par try stopped on the right edge. The bogey gave Brooks an even-par 70 and dropped him to four-under. Back at 17, Cink replaced Brooks as co-leader after a brilliant wedge approach over the flag landed past the pin before spinning back to two feet for birdie.

Two top-class players who had been expected to make a charge in the final round - Phil Mickelson and Sergio García - blew their chances with poor displays. The most eye-catching performances of the day came from Fiji's Vijay Singh and U.S. veteran Tom Kite, who both stormed to six-under par 64 - the best rounds of the week - and Olin Browne, who sank a hole-in-one at the 11th. Tiger Woods, who had won the last four major championships, failed to make a charge on Sunday and saw his run come to an end. He turned in his second straight 69 to finish tied for 12th at three-over-par 283, snapping streaks of eight straight top-10s in majors and 40 consecutive events under par.

Retief Goosen captured the 101st U.S. Open Championship Monday, posting a two-shot victory over Mark Brooks in an 18-hole playoff at Southern Hills Country Club. The seemingly stoic 32-year-old became the third South African to win the title, joining countrymen Gary Player and Ernie Els as champions of the USGA's premier event. A two-shot swing in Brooks' favor at the 17th cut Goosen's lead to three shots with one hole to play. But Brooks, who struggled off the tee all day, sent his most important drive into the right-hand rough. He chose a fairway wood for his approach and did well to run his ball into the bunker short and left of the final green. Goosen found the 18th fairway with his drive, then hit a five-iron that landed short of the green and rolled 20 yards (18 m) back down the slope. Taking no chances with his tight uphill lie, Goosen used a putter to knock his ball onto the putting surface, but was left staring at a 25-footer for his par. Brooks blasted out of the trap to three feet to set up a closing par for a two-over 72. Goosen left his bid for par five feet short, but this time rolled in the clinching putt for an even-par 70 that saw him become just the sixth foreign-born winner of the U.S. Open in the last 70 years.

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2004 U.S. Open Golf Championship


The 2004 United States Open Golf Championship was the 104th U.S. Open, played from June 17 to June 20, 2004 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. The U.S. Open returned to Shinnecock Hills for the first time since 1995. Retief Goosen won his second U.S. Open Championship and second major championship his first win came in 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills Country Club. Goosen’s birdie on the 16th combined with Phil Mickelson’s double bogey on 17th gave Goosen a two shot win. The event took place in Shinnecock Hills, New York. The purse was $6.25 million and Goosen earned $1.125 million.

The 2004 U.S. Open Golf Championship was the fourth U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. The former champions in order are James Foulis (1896), Raymond Floyd (1986)and Corey Pavin (1995). In 1896 the second U.S. Open Championship was held at Shinnecock, but the course has been completely redone and saw a 90 year drought between Opens. The 1986 U.S. Open was a huge success as everyone recognized the quality of the course and how appropriate—and unique—it was as an Open setting. The course was a the perfect illustration of beauty and pure difficulty. Raymond Floyd found himself one back entering into the final round and on day where an under-par round was nearly impossible Floyd shot a final round 67 to win. The conditions were almost the same in 1995 with no one scoring under par. The conditions were especially on Sunday with only three people under-par most importantly Corey Pavin played the final 10 holes three-under-par on a way to a 68 for the win. Pavin hit a memorable 4-wood to the 18th green to within 5 feet.

American Jay Haas leads after one round, bidding to become the oldest major champion in history. He was joined at the lead by Japan's Shigeki Maruyama and Argentina's Ángel Cabrera. Former Masters champion Vijay Singh shot a solid 68. Current Masters champion Phil Mickelson shot a 68 as well. Former U.S. Open champions Ernie Els and Retief Goosen shot an even-par 70 after rough starts. World Number 1 Tiger Woods struggled on Shinnecock's fast conditions and settled for a two-over-par 72. David Duval shot a worst round 83, but was in high spirits afterwards.

Phil Mickelson surged into the lead of the 104th U.S. Open trying to be the sixth man to win the first two majors of the year. He shot a blemish-free 66. He tied for the lead with Shigeki Maruyama who shot a 68 after a bogey on the 18th. Ernie Els had four consecutive birdies in a round of 67. American Jeff Maggert was in solo second at five-under-par with a 67. Fred Funk and Retief Goosen both shot 66 to tie for third. Ángel Cabrera had a crazy day after a 66 to shot a 71. Former U.S. Open champion at Shinnecock Corey Pavin tied with Vijay Singh four back of the lead. Tiger Woods shot a 69 at one-over-par tied for 18th. World Number 4 Davis Love III missed the cut along with David Duval.

Former champion Retief Goosen battled his way into a two-shot lead in the U.S. Open third round on Saturday as Shinnecock Hills presented its stiffest test of the week. He held his nerve in challenging conditions to card a one-under-par 69 for a five-under total of 205. He was one of only three players to return sub-par rounds. Second round leader Phil Mickelson bogeyed the last two holes for a share of second place with two time Open champion Ernie Els. Fred Funk and Shigeki Maruyama both had crazy days both finishing poorly in a tie for fourth. Jeff Maggert after a poor round of 74 was tied with Tim Clark in sixth place. Tim Clark had a low round of 66, best of the day. Tiger Woods shot a 73 and Vijay Singh shot a 77.

South Africa's Retief Goosen held his nerve to clinch the U.S. Open for a second time, edging out Phil Mickelson by two shots with a closing one-over-par 71 on Sunday. Goosen finished at four-under 276 on a day when the average final-round score was 78.7 in brutal conditions at Shinnecock Hills. Mickelson, urged on by raucous New York galleries on a windswept and sunny afternoon, completed a matching 71 for his third runner-up spot in the last six U.S. Opens. Goosen led by two going into the final day but was overhauled by Mickelson over the closing stretch, the left-handed American moving one stroke clear with back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16. But Mickelson, bidding to become the sixth player to win the first two majors of the year, immediately fell back, running up a double-bogey at the par-three 17th after three-putting from five feet. Goosen, playing in the group behind, restored his two-shot advantage with a 12-foot birdie putt on 16 and parred the final two holes to seal the title.

American Jeff Maggert finished third at one-over 281 after carding a 72, while 2003 Mike Weir (74) of Canada and Japan's Shigeki Maruyama (76) were a further three shots back in a tie for fourth. However world number two Ernie Els, joint second overnight with Mickelson, produced four double-bogeys on his way to an 80, his worst score in a U.S. Open, and a tie for ninth at seven over. World number one Tiger Woods, who began nine shots off the lead, battled to a six-over 76 and a share of 17th. A mix of five bogeys, a double-bogey and a birdie at the last left him at 10-over 290 as he narrowly avoided returning his worst round at a U.S. Open. His career low was a 77 in the third round at Oakland Hills playing as an amateur in 1996. Australia's Robert Allenby was the only player to return a level-par 70 on Sunday, three birdies and three bogeys lifting him into a tie for seventh with American Steve Flesch at six-over 286. Fred Funk (77) of the U.S. was alone in sixth on 285.

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Ernie Els

Ernie Els shares a laugh during the practice round for the 2004 Buick Classic

Theodore Ernest "Ernie" Els (born 17 October 1969) is a South African golfer who has been one of the top professional players in the world since the mid-1990s. A former World No. 1, he is known as "The Big Easy", for his imposing physical stature (he stands 1.90 metres) along with his fluid, seemingly effortless golf swing.

Growing up just east of Johannesburg in Kempton Park, South Africa, he played rugby union, cricket, tennis, and, starting at age 8, golf. He was a skilled junior tennis player and won the Eastern Transvaal Junior Championships at age 13. Els learned the game of golf at the Kempton Park Country Club where he started carrying for his father, Neels. He was soon playing better than his father (and his older brother, Dirk), and by the age of 14 he was a scratch handicap. It was around this time that he decided to focus exclusively on golf.

Els married his wife Liezl in 1998 in Cape Town and they have two children, Samantha and Ben. In 2008 after Els started to display an "Autism Speaks" logo on his golf bag it was announced that their five year old son was autistic. Their main residence is at the Wentworth Estate near Wentworth Golf Club in the south of England. The family also has a home in Jupiter, Florida in order to get better treatment for Ben's autism.

Among Els numerous victories are three major championships: Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 at the Oakmont Country Club and 1997 (this time at the Congressional Country Club), and the The Open Championship in 2002.

Other highlights in Els' career include topping the 2003 and 2004 European Tour Order of Merit (money list), and winning the World Match Play Championship a record seven times. He has held the number one spot in the Official World Golf Rankings and has been consistently ranked in the top five. He has been in the top ten for over 750 weeks; nobody has been in the top ten longer. In 2003 he was voted 37th on the SABC3's Great South Africans. He won the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in the 1991/92 and 1994/95 seasons.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Els is known for his willingness to participate in tournaments all around the world (he regularly plays in European Tour-sanctioned events in Asia, Australasia, and his native country of South Africa). He says that his globe-trotting schedule is in recognition of the global nature of golf, but it has caused some friction with the U.S. PGA Tour, an organization that would prefer Els to play more tournaments in the United States. In late 2004, Tim Finchem, the director of the PGA Tour, wrote quite a firm letter to Els asking him to do so, but Els publicized and rejected this request. The PGA Tour's attitude caused considerable offense in the golfing world outside of North America.

In 1989 Els won the South African Amateur Stroke Play Championiship and turned professional the same year. Els won his first professional tournament in 1991 on the Southern Africa Tour (today the Sunshine Tour). In 1993 Els won his first tournament outside of South Africa at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan. In 1994 Els won his first major championship at the U.S. Open. Els was tied with Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts after 72 holes and they went to a 18 hole playoff the next day. The play-off consisted of 18 holes of golf but Els and Roberts were still tied by the end with Els eventually prevailing on the second hole of sudden death.

Els brought his game all around the world in his young career winning the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour, and the Toyota World Match Play Championship defeating once again Colin Montgomerie four-and-two. The following year, Els defended his World Match Play Championship, defeating Steve Elkington three-and-one, won the Byron Nelson Classic in the United States then headed back home to South Africa and won twice more. In 1996 Els won his third straight World Match Play Championship over Vijay Singh three-and-one. No player in history had ever managed three successive titles in the one-on-one tournament. Els finished the year with a win at his home tournamnet at the South African Open.

1997 was a career year for Els first winning his second U.S. Open (once again over Colin Montgomerie) this time at Congressional Country Club, making him the first foreign player since Alex Smith (1906, 1910) to win the U.S. Open twice. He defended his Buick Classic title and added the Johnnie Walker Classic to his list of victories. Els nearly won the World Match Play Championship for a fourth consecutive year, but lost to Vijay Singh in the final. 1998 and 1999 continued to be successful years for Els with 4 wins on both the PGA and European tours. 2000 started in historic fashion for Els being given a special honour by the Board of Directors of the European Tour awarding him with honorary life membership of the European Tour because of his two U.S. Opens and three World Match Play titles. 2000 was the year of runner ups for Els; with three runner up finishes in the Majors (Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship) and seven second place finishes in tournaments worldwide. Els had a disappointing 2001 season, failing to win a US PGA tour event for the first time since 1994 although he ended the year with nine second place finishes.

2002 was arguably Els's best year which started with a win at the Heineken Classic at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Then went to America and outplayed World Number one Tiger Woods to lift the Genuity Championship title. The premier moment of the season was surely his The Open Championship triumph in very tough conditions at Muirfield. Els overcame a four man playoff to take home the famed Claret Jug for the first time, also quieting his critics about his mental toughness. The South African also took home his fourth World Match Play title, along with his third Nedbank Challenge in the last four years dominating a world class field winning by 8 shots.

2003 gave Els his first European Tour Order of Merit. Although playing less events than his competitors Els won four times and had three runner ups. He also performed well in the United States with back to back victories at the Mercedes Championship and Sony Open and achieved top 20 spots in all four majors including a fifth place finish at the U.S Open and sixth place finishes at both the Masters and PGA Championship. To top of the season Els won the World Match Play title for a record tying fifth time.

2004 was another successful year as Els won 6 times on both tours including big wins at Memorial, WGC-American Express Championship and his sixth World Match Play Championship, a new record. His success didn't stop there. Els showed amazing consistency in the Majors but lost to Phil Mickelson in the Masters when Mickelson birdied the 18th for the title, finished ninth in the U.S. Open after playing in the final group with friend and fellow countryman Retief Goosen and surprisingly losing in a playoff in the Open to the unknown Todd Hamilton. Els had a 14-foot put for birdie on the final hole of regulation for the championship, but Els missed the putt and lost in the playoff. Els ended the major season with a fourth place finish in the PGA Championship. In total Els had 16 top 10 finishes, a second European Order of Merit title in succession and a second place finish on the United States money list. 2004 was the start of the "Big Five Era" which is used in describing the era in golf where Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, and Phil Mickelson dominated the game of golf. The five switched up and down the top five positions in the World Golf Ranking; most notably Vijay Singh's derailing of Tiger Woods as the best golfer in the world. The five stayed, for the most part in the top five spots from 2004 till the start of 2007. Nine majors where won between them many fighting against each other head to head.

In July 2005, Els injured his left knee while sailing with his family in the Mediterranean. Despite missing several months of the 2005 season due to the injury, Els won the second event on his return, the Dunhill Championship.

At the start of the 2007 season Ernie Els laid out a three-year battle plan to challenge Tiger Woods as world number one. "I see 2007 as the start of a three-year plan where I totally re-dedicate myself to the game." Els told his official website.

Els has often been compared to Greg Norman in the sense that both men’s careers could be looked back on and think what could have been. Although the two of them are multiple major championship winners they have both shared disappointment in majors. Their disappointments have ranged from nerves, bad luck and simply being outplayed. 1996 was the year where Norman collapsed in the Masters and Els in the PGA Championship. Els has finished runner-up in six majors and most notably for his runner-up finishes to Tiger Woods. Els has finished runner-up to Woods more than any other golfer and has often been described as having the right game to finally be the golfer to beat Woods in a major.

On March 2, 2008, Els won the Honda Classic contested at PGA National's Championship Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Els shot a final round 67 in tough windy conditions, which was enough to give him the win by one stroke over Luke Donald. The win marked the end of a three and a half year long stretch without a win on the PGA Tour for Els. The win was his 16th PGA Tour victory of his career.

Els is represented by International Sports Management. When not playing, he has a golf course design business, a charitable foundation which supports golf among underprivileged youngsters in South Africa, and a highly-regarded wine-making business. Els has written a popular golf instructional column in Golf Digest magazine for several years.

On April 8, 2008, Els officially announced that he was switching swing coaches from David Leadbetter (whom Els had worked with since 1990) to Butch Harmon who has revamped the golf swings of many established pros (which started with Greg Norman). During Els 2008 Masters press conference Els said the change is in an effort to tighten his swing, shorten his swing, and get a fresh perspective.

Els's victories in The Open and the WGC-American Express Championship count as wins on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. His two U.S. Opens do not count as European Tour wins because the three U.S. based majors did not become part of the European Tour's official schedule until 1998.

These figures are from the respective tour's official sites. Note that there is double counting of money earned (and wins) in the majors and World Golf Championships since they became official events on both tours.

DNP = did not play CUT = missed the half-way cut "T" = tied Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

1Cancelled due to 9/11 DNP = Did not play QF, R16, R32, R64 = Round in which player lost in match play "T" = tied WD = withdrew NT = No Tournament Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

He is also responsible for the refinement and modernisation of the West Course, Wentworth-Virginia Water, England, which took place in 2006.

The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation was established in 1999. It has the objective of identifying youths which show talent and potential in the game of golf from under-privileged backgrounds. It provides educational assistance amongst other moral and financial help in order for these youths to reach their full potential.

The first Friendship Cup was played in 2006 which is a match play competition, played in a Ryder Cup type format. In the cup, Els's foundation plays against the foundation of Tiger Woods. Els's foundation won 12.5 points to 3.5 points.

Els has also participated several times in the Gary Player Invitational series of charity golf events, to assist friend Gary Player raise significant funds for underpriveledged children around the world.

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Source : Wikipedia