PACIFIC PALISADES: Retief Goosen has won two U.S. Opens in a stellar career and the chance to claim a first PGA Tour title in six years at the Northern Trust Open felt like he was in another U.S. Open campaign.
Tough scoring conditions all week on a firm Riviera Country Club layout have forced the players to keep grinding in major championship style, ideal territory for Goosen who is known for his gritty, ice-cool approach to the game.
"Patience is a big, big key on a course like this," Goosen, who won the U.S. Open in 2001 and 2004, told reporters after seizing a two-shot lead after Saturday`s third round.
"I have the experience, but it`s been quite a long time ago now, 14 and 11 years ago since I won a U.S. Open. It wasn`t easy out there for me.
"But I like the tougher golf courses where you grind it out. They seem to be the ones I tend to win on. Most of my tournament wins came on the tougher golf courses."
Goosen, 46, has not triumphed on the PGA Tour since the 2009 Transitions Championship and he did not hesitate when asked what a victory at Riviera on Sunday would mean to him.
"Oh, this would be an awesome win," the soft spoken South African said after carding a two-under-par 69 in the third round.
"It`s been a while since I had a chance to win, and this will feel like a U.S. Open, a third U.S. Open, if I win this week. I`m going to give it my all tomorrow, fight hard and we`ll see what happens."
Goosen, a seven-times winner on the PGA Tour, already feels as if he has a second lease on life as a playing professional after having back surgery in August 2012 to repair a damaged disc."I`m very happy with the way that`s turned out," he said. "My back`s feeling great. I have zero back pain. I wish I was 10 years younger, but you know, I feel like I can swing the club again. I just need to control my nerves a little bit.
"But the surgery has given me a second life, and hopefully I can continue to play on tour for a few years to come."