SHHHH. Defending champion Retief Goosen is quietly making a bid for his third US Open title in five years and he doesn't want to wake up his rivals.
The mild-mannered 36-year-old South African could become the first man in 52 years to win so many US Open titles in so short a span here at Pinehurst No. 2. But don't tell anybody.
“He just goes around under the radar. Nobody is talking about him and he's the defending US Open champion,” said two-time major runner-up Chris DiMarco. “I don't think he gets enough credit for how good he really is.”
Being under-appreciated is nothing new for the mellow major menace.
“There are times I feel that,” Goosen said. “In a way it makes you more determined to and win another one.”
But you will not see that determination bubbling over in a seething rage. It's a calm, cool, precise inspiration flowing like ice through his veins.
“He has the perfect game for the Open. There's no change in emotion,” DiMarco said. “I don't want to say he's a boring guy but he just plays boring golf.”
Yawn. Wake Goosen when it's time to respond to birdies with acrobatics.
“I don't know what the guys want me to do. Do they want me to do handstands when I make a putt and all that kind of stuff?” Goosen said. “I don't know why certain players won't be interested. Maybe that's just the way it is.”
Nobody knows Goosen's laid-back style like his compatriot Ernie Els, a two-time US Open winner who lives up to his nickname, the “Big Easy.”
“Retief has always been like that,” Els said. “Retief is very quiet, keeps to himself. He will come out of his shell when he knows you well. I've had some great nights with Retief.”
It's the days on the course when Goosen plays like he's in a daze.
“It's all about concentration on the golf course,” Goosen said. “Once you're out on the course, it's how you control your emotions under pressure.
“The US Open is all about patience really. Six pars in a row is pretty good around a course like this. Patience is going to have a lot to do with it, good course management. You can't go at any of the flags on most of these greens.”
Goosen has not won this year but his five top-10 showings include a share of third at the Masters.
Winning here would put him alongside Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan as the only men to win three US Opens in five years.
“Everybody sees it as the toughest one to win and the toughest course to play on,” Goosen said of the US Open. – AFP