Sunday, November 02, 2008

Goosen ends 21
months without
win with victory
in Malaysia

South African star Retief Goosen (pictured right) ended a frustrating 21-month title drought with a magnificent two-stroke victory at the Iskandar Johor Open on Sunday.
The two-time Major champion fired a superb final round of six-under-par 66, overcoming an overnight four-shot deficit at Royal Johor Country Club to triumph at the US$500,000 Asian Tour event.
Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant and Australian Kane Webber challenged Goosen all the way before settling for second and third place respectively after a 71 and 70 respectively.
Iain Steel was Malaysia’s best finisher after a 72 earned him tied fourth place with overnight leader Niclas Fasth of Sweden and Australian trio Andrew Dodt, Richard Moir and Mitchell Brown.
It was Goosen’s fourth victory on the Asian Tour and his 29th international title and ended a lean spell where his last victory came at the Qatar Masters in early 2007.
“It means a lot. It’s been a drought. Coming down the stretch, you haven’t won for a while, so it’s nice to finish it off with some good shots and I got the job done. It’s great to win again. It’s been a tiring week walking these hills but it was well worth it,” said Goosen, who was bogey free for the last day.
He also extended his proud winning record of having won at least an individual or team title since 1995. “It was a long time ago that I won (in Qatar). It’s nice to get at least a win every year since 1995 and keep the streak going.”
The South African, who ended the week with a 12-under-par 276 winning total, enjoyed a flying start with a birdie on the par five second hole and produced a stunning eagle on the par five fourth when he holed out his third shot from the fairway.
Another 15-footer for birdie on the 10th hole saw the 39-year-old tie Thaworn for the lead and he was soon out in front on his own when the Thai bogeyed the 10th hole. Two more birdies on the 14th and 15th holes from 15 and six feet saw Goosen pull ahead by three.
Thaworn, chasing a record 11th career win at the Iskandar Johor Open, birdied the 14th hole to get to within two shots of Goosen but failed to find the two birdies down the stretch to force a play-off.
“I got off to a great start when I holed my third shot at the fourth which really got my round going. I had a nice yardage of 69 yards to the flag and hit it a perfect 60 degree wedge and hit it left of the hole and spun it in. That was a good hole,” said Goosen.
A weather-delay which suspended play for two hours and 15 minutes while the last two groups were still on course only served to delay the inevitable as Goosen walked off with the winner’s cheque of US$79,250.
Thaworn, Asia’s number one in 2005, started strongly with birdies on the second and third holes but dropped shots on the fifth and 10th with errant drives. He gave himself a glimmer of hope with his birdie on the 14th which came a little too late.
“It was a long and tiring week (with the weather delays). This is my seventh tournament in a row and I think it affected me. I knew I had to birdie 17 and 18 after the weather break but left the birdie putt short from 30 feet. It wasn’t a realistic chance for me,” said the Thai.
Webber, showing a welcome return to form after a lean spell, was in the title mix as well with birdies on the 15th and 16th holes before running out of steam. “I was a bit disappointed with that last hole bogey (which cost him second place). I hit a bad tee shot and couldn’t help that. The start is where you got to get going and I struggled on five and six and couldn’t get it done on the back nine,” he said.

Par 288 (4 x 72)

276 Retief Goosen (RSA) 72-69-69-66
278 Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 69-69-69-71
279 Kane Webber (AUS) 68-71-70-70
281 Andrew Dodt (AUS) 71-71-69-70, Richard Moir (AUS) 69-71-70-71, Iain Steel (MAS) 70-69-70-72, Niclas Fasth (SWE) 68-68-70-75, Mitchell Brown (AUS) 67-69-72-73
282 Unho Park (AUS) 73-72-70-67, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 71-70-73-68, Danny Chia (MAS) 75-70-69-68, Yasin Ali (ENG) 73-72-69-68, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 71-66-73-72
283 Ben Leong (MAS) 71-71-73-68, Steven Tiley (ENG) 75-69-71-68, Anthony Kang (USA) 71-72-71-69, Mahal Pearce (NZL) 67-76-69-71, Rick Kulacz (AUS) 67-73-71-72



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