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Retief Goosen

Less than 24 hours after missing a putt of less than 2 feet that would have given him the U.S. Open, Retief Goosen out-dueled Mark Brooks by two strokes over an 18 hole playoff to win the title that almost slipped away.

Goosen one-putted eight of the first 10 holes and took a five-stroke advantage when he birdied the ninth and tenth holes, from 12 and 20 feet respectively, while Brooks struggled with bogeys on each. He was 3-under par at the turn, so his three bogeys on the closing seven holes didn't hurt a bit. It didn't even matter that he bogeyed the 18th hole for the second consecutive day.

"Today I showed myself something," said the 32-year-old Goosen, winner of four European PGA Tour events. "I didn't look at it like it would be the end of the world if I didn't win, but I did win, and that's a great feeling. What an honor to be with Arnie and Tiger and Payne Stewart.

"I learned a lot about myself this week, and I know that I can handle a little bit of pressure. I felt like I needed to win this today somehow, from what happened yesterday."

Brooks appeared headed in the right direction when he made birdie on the par-4 third hole. Goosen tied him at 1-under-par with a perfect 8-iron to 6 feet on the par-3 sixth. From there Goosen changed from being an escape artist to a steady player while Brooks lost his aim off the tee. After hitting the first four fairways, Brooks found just two of the last 10.

"A lot of things are going to change in my life now, "said Goosen, a native of South Africa who has been living in Londer for the past eight years. "I look forward to what's coming up."

Goosen, who had shared or held the lead outright after each round of the Championship, became the third South African to hold the Open trophy, following in the footsteps of Gary Player (1965) and Ernie Els (1994 and 1997).

He opened with a 4-under-par 66 and followed that with a 70-69-71 for a four-round total of 4-under 276. Brooks reached his 4-under total through Sunday with rounds of 72-61-70-70.

Tom Kite matched Brooks' 64 in the forth round. And Hale Irwin started strong with a round of 67 before finishing 12-over.

In contrast, defending champion Tiger Woods opened with a 4-over 74, his highest score in 118 consecutive competitive rounds (since the first round of the 2000 Masters), only climbed to a tie for 12th at the end of the week.

On Saturday night, there were six golfers within two strokes of the lead, with Goosen sharing the top spot with Stewart Cink at 5-under 205. Brooks, Rocco Mediate and Sergio Garcia were at 206, and Phil Mickelson was at 207.

All of them slipped back early on Sunday except Goosen, Brooks and Cink. Cink three-putted the 72nd hole, missing a two-footer, that cost him a playoff chance.


Starts - 11

Best Finish - Winner 2001, 2004

Rds - 34

Cuts Made - 6

Top 3 - 2

Top 5 - 2

Top 10 - 2

Top 25 - 5

Avg. 72.76

Scores in 60s - 8

Rds Under Par - 8

Earnings - $2,389,241

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    Historical Notes
    On Oct. 4, 1895, the first U.S. Open Championship was conducted by the United States Golf Association on the nine-hole course of Newport (R.I.) Golf and Country Club.
    The first U.S. Open was considered something of a sideshow to the first U.S. Amateur, which was played on the same course and during the same week. Both championships had been scheduled for September but were postponed because of a conflict with a more established Newport sports spectacle, the America's Cup yacht races.
    Ten professionals and one amateur started in the 36-hole competition, which was four trips around the Newport course in one day. The surprise winner was Horace Rawlins, 21, an English professional who was the assistant at the host course. Rawlins scored 91-82-173 with the gutta-percha ball.
    Prize money totalled $335, of which Rawlins won the $150 first prize. He also received a gold medal and custody of the Open Championship Cup for his club for one year.
    In its first decade, the U.S. Open was conducted for amateurs and the largely British wave of immigrant golf professionals coming to the United States.
    As American players began to dominate the game, the U.S. Open evolved into an important world golf championship. Young John J. McDermott became the first native-born American winner in 1911 and repeated as champion in 1912.
    In 1913, the U.S. Open really took off when Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old American amateur, stunned the golf world by defeating famous English professionals, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, in a playoff.
    Another surge in the championship's popularity coincided with the amazing career of Georgia amateur Bob Jones, who won the U.S. Open four times (1923, 1926, 1929, 1930). Spectator tickets were sold for the first time in 1922 and a boom in entries caused the USGA to introduce sectional qualifying in 1924.
    In 1933, John Goodman became the fifth and last amateur to win the U.S. Open. The others were Ouimet, Jerome D. Travers (1915), Charles Evans Jr., (1916), and Jones.
    In each era, the world's greatest players have been identified by surviving the rigorous examination provided by the U.S. Open. Ben Hogan's steely determination boosted him to four victories (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953). Arnold Palmer's record comeback win in 1960, when he fired a final round of 65 to come from seven strokes off the lead, cemented his dashing image. Jack Nicklaus' historic assault on the professional record book began when he won the first of his four U.S. Open Championships in 1962, his rookie season as a professional.
    Nicklaus, who also won in 1967, 1972, and 1980, is one of only four golfers to win four U.S. Opens. The others are Willie Anderson (1901, 1903, 1904, 1905), Jones and Hogan.
    In 1954, the U.S. Open course was roped from tee to green for the first time. That year also marked the first national television coverage. Coverage was expanded by ABC Sports in 1977 so that all 18 holes of the final two rounds were broadcast live. In 1982, on the ESPN cable network, the first two rounds were broadcast live for the first time. NBC began televising the U.S. Open in 1995.
    The format of the U.S. Open has changed several times. The USGA extended the championship to 72 holes in 1898, with 36 holes played on each of two days. In 1926, the format was changed to 18 holes played each of two days, then 36 holes on the third day. In 1965, the present format of four 18-hole daily rounds was implemented for the first time.
    In 2002, a two-tee (Nos. 1 and 10) start was used for the first and second rounds. In addition, Bethpage State Park's Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y., was the first facility owned by the public to host a U.S. Open. International qualifying sites were added in 2005 and the champion at Pinehurst Resort in N.C. was Michael Campbell, who qualified in England.