So much for a major championship hangover.
Two weeks after he won the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, Retief Goosen coasted to a five-stroke victory July 4 at the Smurfit European Open. The 35-year-old South African became the first player to win his first event after a major title since Tiger Woods won the NEC Championship after capturing the 2000 PGA.
Goosen shot a final-round 68 to finish at 13 under, though he said The European Open victory was not as easy as he made it look.
“I was tired at the beginning of the week,” said Goosen, who moved to the top of the Order of Merit after winning 550,004 euros (approximately $677,000). “Now I’m really tired.”
Goosen made a number of television appearances after winning on Long Island two weeks previous. He said he won’t play in Scotland this week so he can prepare for the British Open.
He began the final round one shot ahead of Jose Manuel Lara and two up on Lee Westwood. Goosen didn’t bogey a hole in the final round. He had birdies at the third and fifth holes to break away, then birdied the 10th and 18th. Westwood eliminated himself from contention with a bogey at No. 4 and a double bogey at No. 6, though he did battle the rest of the way to finish at 71 and tie for second.
“I just don’t know what happened on the first five holes,” Westwood said. “I couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm and didn’t feel particularly good on the greens either. I could have run him (Goosen) close but nobody put any pressure on him.”
Lara fell to a tie for fifth by shooting 73 on Sunday. Australians Richard Green and Peter O’Malley tied with Westwood for second place, but they each enjoyed more than a minor consolation prize – qualifying for the British Open.
Green, along with France’s Jean-Francois Remesy, took the two places available from the mini order of merit which ran from the Deutsche Bank – SAP Open to the Smurfit European Open, and O’Malley took the one place available from the Smurfit event given to the leading player not otherwise exempt.
“I’ve been banging on the door for some time now and hopefully the hinges are hanging off,” said Green, who rebounded from a 78 Friday with a pair of 66s on the weekend.
O’Malley continued a stretch in which he has five consecutive top-20 finishes – and three consecutive top 10s.
“I’m getting better and better . . .” O’Malley said.
– Staff and wire reports