Calm Goose suited to Open challenge

Retief Goosen has had six top-10 finishes in the Open Championship over the last nine years, and that kind of consistency on difficult courses makes it hard to overlook him as a contender this week at Royal St George’s.

There are two more top 10s on his Open resume which has its genesis back in 1993, and together with his two US Open successes, they point to why his timely return to form with a top-10 finish in the BMW International Open in Italy and a top-15 spot in the rain-shortened Barclays Scottish last week should serve as notice that he could fly in under the radar at Sandwich and pull off a victory.

One of his top-10s in the Open was achieved the last time the Open was played at Royal St George’s: He finished 10th behind Ben Curtis when the course was considerably tougher than it is reported to be playing this year – although wind may make the difficult challenge the course poses even tougher during the weekend.

It is Goosen’s last two performances at the Open which are also significant: At Turnberry in 2009, he finished fifth as Stewart Cink broke Tom Watson’s heart to win the Claret Jug, and last year, as Louis Oosthuizen romped home by seven strokes, he survived the winds of the opening two days at St Andrews to finish sixth.

As a player who controls the flight of his ball so well, a windy week at Sandwich will actually appeal to him, and if the greens are running as true as Charl Schwartzel enthused on Tuesday, then Goosen’s nerveless putting skills on slick greens will be a handy weapon.

There is an inordinate amount of media focus on Rory McIlroy and the other young players – but the 42-year-old Goosen’s temperament is ideally suited to the vicissitudes of links golf – and to winning major championships.

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