Goosen's second shot hits Open gold

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The Independent Online

Retief Goosen again bogeyed the 18th hole here but still won the 101st United States Open by two strokes from Mark Brooks after an 18-hole play-off. Goosen, who dramatically failed to take the title on Sunday when he had two putts to win, this time had the luxury of taking three on the last green and needed only two.

Despite a shocking miss from the previous evening, putting was the key to Goosen's victory yesterday. He came to the 18th with a three-stroke lead but his approach shot ran back down the slope in front of the green. He elected to putt the ball up onto the putting surface, getting to within 30 feet of the hole.

While Brooks came out of a greenside bunker to three feet, Goosen left his putt six feet short but then holed out for victory. Brooks then made his par for a round of 72. Goosen became the third South African to win the event, after Gary Player and Ernie Els, and earned £657,000 to Brooks's £387,000.

There was no great victory salute from the quiet yet stoic Goosen. "I had to work hard for it," he said. "It is been a long week and feels like a year." Among those celebrating last night with Goosen, who recently married an Englishwoman, was the Belgian sports psychologist Jos Vantisphout, who helped the South African forget the nightmare of Sunday and get ready for the play-off.

With the championship extended by 24 more hours in Tulsa, all those corporate types who had paid big bucks to play the course that tamed Tiger were kept outside the ropes. Goosen had not jumped out of his hotel bedroom during the night, Brooks found all his possessions in his locker, where he had hurriedly returned them once Sunday night's mayhem at the 18th green had sunk in.

It was the putts that did not sink. First Brooks left his seven-footer fractionally short. Then Stewart Cink completely missed the hole from less than two feet to lose any chance of being in a possible play-off that came a reality when Goosen missed his own two-footer for the title. There have been other tiny putts missed to lose a major, but perhaps never such a sequence of shocking three-putts, each worse than the last.

The unheralded pair of Goosen and Brooks, ranked 44th and 195th in the world respectively, had no time to castigate themselves. Goosen, the 32-year-old from Johannesburg, has won four times in Europe but had never previously been in the top-10 in a major.

The 40-year-old Brooks, from Texas, had not won since claiming, in similarly inauspicious circumstances, the USPGA title in 1996. That was the last major Woods did not play in for the simply reason that he had not yet turned professional. As if the 18th of Sunday had never happened, Goosen continued to putt as beautifully as he had done for the first 71 holes.

He required only 12 putts for the first 10 holes. He almost holed out from a bunker at the first and wore Brooks out with the number of times he got up and down. In addition, he holed from five feet at the sixth, 18 feet at the ninth and 15 feet at the 10th for birdies.

Brooks, who had taken the lead briefly with a birdie at the third, dropped shots at the ninth and the 10th, having driven into the trees and the rough respectively, to fall five behind. The next six holes were halved until the 17th, when there was a two-stroke swing. Goosen for once failing to get up and down from off the green and Brooks, who had missed birdie chances at the previous two holes, making a 12-footer. "It was one of those weird days," Brooks said. "I got punished severely when I went in the rough and never had a shot out."

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