Johannesburg - Retief Goosen may have won two majors but the South African golfer achieved a new first in his illustrious career when he fired five consecutive birdies during his opening round at the Africa Open at the East London Golf Club on Thursday.
Goosen, 42, did not enjoy the best start to his round as he bogeyed his first hole but he soon found his rhythm as he picked up consecutive birdies from the 11th hole to the 15th on his way to a eight-under par 65 on the 6 163 metre course.
“I started with a bogey, which wasn’t quite the way I wanted to start,” Goosen chuckled.
“Suddenly I went five birdies in a row and I can’t remember if I’ve ever done that,” he added.
Goosen eventually picked up nine birdies, with just a single drop shot, during his round as he took full advantage of the benign conditions at the coastal course which relies on wind to provide its main defence.
Goosen, who missed the cut at last year’s Africa Open, said that he had enjoyed a slice of luck on his way to birdying the 450 metre par-five third hole, the kind of luck that players need if they are to win tournaments.
“I hit a nice drive but the wind was slightly off the left and it started drifting. It hit a tree and the next moment it bounced back onto the fairway. I said to Mark (Pittock, Goosen’s caddy) ‘This could be my year’ because last year it went the other way,” he smiled.
“Hopefully I keep getting those bounces and breaks because that’s what you need. That ball could have gone the other way and suddenly you make seven and a good round is gone. You need those breaks to win tournaments.”
Goosen teed off in the morning’s first group and he was given the honour of hitting the first tee shot to signal the start of this year’s Race to Dubai.
“This morning the course is playing as easy as you’ll see. All the par-fives are reachable and they are the holes you need to score well on.
“I hit the ball fairly well, not so well over the last eight holes, play got very slow and we waited on every shot and I lost my rhythm a little bit. My back is feeling a little bit tight now so I’ll get some work done on it and hopefully be ready to get going again on Friday,” he said.