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Sunday, 10 November, 2002, 15:28 GMT
Goosen reigns again
Retief Goosen poses with the Order of Merit trophy
Goosen had a good early season
Retief Goosen has considered himself a lucky man ever since he was struck by lightning 10 years ago and lived to tell the tale.

But the South African continues to make his own luck on the golf course.

And there has been nothing fortunate about his successful defence of the European Order of Merit.

Last year, he tied up the title in style by winning the Madrid Open, beating Mark Brooks in an 18-hole play-off.

He could not replicate the glory of that success as he struggled in the season-ending Volvo Masters in Valderrama this time.

But Goosen became the sixth player, and first non-European, to retain the title after Padraig Harrington, his only remaining rival for the crown, also faltered.

He amassed most of his earnings in the early part of the year with his sole tournament win coming in January's Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia.

That was followed by a runner-up spot behind Tiger Woods in the US Masters at Augusta in April.

Goosen admits he has not played well down the home straight.

But the brand of un-showy consistency that secured a second Order of Merit has characterised his career.

Born 33 years ago in Pietersburg, Goosen was introduced to golf by his father, who played off a handicap of 10.


You've got to play pretty well for a year or so to defend this title so it's great to pull it off
Retief Goosen

As a youngster he played rugby, cricket and tennis and enjoyed athletics, only picking up golf at the age of 10 and not concentrating on it solely until he was 13.

He was successful from the start, picking up every available amateur representative honour before taking a break to complete the then-compulsory two years of military service.

In 1990 he won the South African Amateur Championship and then turned pro, being named Rookie of the Year on his national tour in his debut season.

After two successful years he joined the European Tour and came close to winning his first event, finishing second in the Dubai Desert Classic.

Retief Goosen celebrates his first European Tour win in 1996
Retief relief: Goosen broke his duck in 1996
That near miss was to prove something of a false omen.

Goosen struggled for the next few years and did not take his first Tour win until 1996 at the Slaley Hall Northumberland Challenge.

His unspectacular showings in the European Order of Merit prior to 2001 gave little indication of what was to come.

His best finish, 5th, came in 1999, sandwiched between a 15th in 2000 and a disappointing 33rd in 1998.

Before winning the US Open last year, Goosen was viewed as a steady talent but not much more.


Goosen has played good golf on both sides of the Atlantic this year
Padraig Harrington

That is not likely to be a view still held by many following his second successive season at the top of the money list.

Goosen is refreshingly old-school in his attitude to diet (anything goes) and post-tournament relaxation (feet up in front of the telly).

And he hinted that there may be more time to catch up on his favourite TV shows in the near future.

He admitted that he was "knackered" at the end of a season in which he played in 34 tournaments.

And with his wife due to give birth in March, Goosen said he will reduced his hefty schedule next year.

"I'd probably cut back about four or five events on the European Tour and probably try and do much the same on the US Tour," he said..

That plan may prevent Goosen completing a hat-trick of consecutive Order of Merit titles.

But that is next year - for now he will be happy savouring his second.

This week's golf from around the world

Volvo Masters

Order of Merit battle

Mizuno Classic, Japan

GOLF STATISTICS
Links to more Golf stories are at the foot of the page.


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Links to more Golf stories

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