Keep a close eye on Goosen at US Open

Of all the South Africans – and there are seven of them – playing the US Open at Congressional Country Club, Retief Goosen was kind of under the radar ahead of the first round.

Even the story of Christo Greyling, who nobody in South Africa really knows much about since he lives in the US now, who made it into the field via the qualifiers (read his story here) seemed to be more visible than a man who has won the US Open twice.

Goosen took the title in 2001 and 2004, and both times, he was the man who best mastered the lightning fast greens in the major most players agree is the one played on the toughest setup of any of them.

It’s going to be more of the same this year, and defending champion Graeme McDowell has already tweeted his prediction that no-one will go under par this week on greens that will be running at quicker that 14 on the Stimpmeter on day one already. Three days of sunshine, and those balls will need parachutes to stop.

For much of 2011, it has not looked likely that Goosen would have been much of a contender at a tournament where his peers would always wonder if his steadiness would put him in a position to win a third US Open.

He has seen his Official World Golf Ranking sink slowly to 26th, and he missed the cut at the Masters. After a share of 12th in February’s Northern Trust Open, he has battled to get into the top 20 of a PGA Tour event, with his best finish being a share of 28th in the Transitions Championship which he won in 2008.

Until last week, when he sorted out his game with a vengeance and a third-round 64 in the St Jude Classic saw him get into contention and finish in a share of third place.

While it’s hardly a summer, the swallow that finish signalled that it would be unwise to count Goosen out of the mix in the US Open.

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