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retief goosen us open

Exclusive: How Retief rallied to beat Mickelson and the crowd at Shinnecock Hills

Retief Goosen tamed the greens that ran away from the USGA in 2004 to win his second US Open title at Shinnecock Hills, stealing victory from Phil Mickelson…

 

Retief Goosen assumed Phil Mickelson made a bogey when he watched him putt on the 17th green at Shinnecock Hills in 2004. What he was really doing was throwing away the US Open.

The South African arrived on the par-3 tee box co-leading with Mickelson on four-under-par in the final round before the left-handed crowd favourite imploded from short range, handing the initiative to the 2001 champion.

Mickelson’s woes on the penultimate hole were symptomatic of a US Open that many players look back on with horror. It was the year the USGA “lost the course” and the conditions became brutal.

“I thought he was probably putting for a birdie and missed, then missed again, so he made bogey,” Goosen told NCG. “Then I proceeded to pull my 7-iron into the bunker on the left, and then I walked up to the green and as I walked up, I saw the scoreboard and he actually made a double-bogey.”

What Goosen hadn’t seen was Mickelson’s tee shot which found the front sand trap. He’d splashed out to about five feet and inexplicably walked off the green three shots later with a double-bogey. Mickelson had only taken 22 putts through 15 holes on the sweltering Sunday. He took three on 17.

retief goosen us open

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Retief Goosen: US Open 2004 was a ‘great victory’

Yet another US Open was about to fall from his grasp, which seemed the last thing that could happen after his birdie putt on hole 16 was roared in by the New York crowd to take the lead just minutes before.

Goosen’s putting carried him to his second US Open triumph. He calmly rolled in a par on the penultimate hole and did the same thing on the 72nd, winning in a relaxed demeanour so similar to his playing partner and compatriot Ernie Els who struggled to a final-round 80.

“Ernie had won the US Open twice and a British Open and I had the US Open in 2001,” he added. “It didn’t make it easier but more comfortable playing with him in the final round.

“I had Phil in front of me with the New York crowd which is never easy. His game started going a little bit after nine holes, he knew it was over for him (Els), he was pushing for me hopefully to win and luckily, my putter stayed hot.

“I made a lot of good putts and then when Phil made that mistake on 17 for me to go two ahead, it was a great victory.”

Goosen proceeded to top 10 at The Open and finish in the top three at the Masters three years in a row, but that hat-trick of majors never came.

Nonetheless, the man from Pietersburg withstood the US Open cauldron 20 years ago and held off one of the sport’s fiercest competitors in Mickelson who would go on to come second at the event three more times.

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How much of this Retief Goosen US Open win do you remember? Which Retief Goosen win did you enjoy the most? Tell us on X!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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