November 10, 2005

Goosen returns to scene of lightning strike

By Craig Ray

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Double U.S. Open champion Retief
Goosen is set to return to the course where he was struck by
lightning as a 15-year-old more than 20 years ago.

The South African will play in the Limpopo Classic at the
Polokwane Golf Club starting on Thursday, the first time he has
returned to the course as a professional.

Goosen spent his 16th birthday in hospital after being
struck by a lightning bolt during a round with a friend. He was
hit when standing under a tree during a typical highveld
thunderstorm of the semi-arid Limpopo province in 1985.

Although suffering no serious long-term effects, he was
sidelined from golf for several months and now has what he
describes as a "crack in his heartbeat."

It has not stopped him rising to fourth in the world
rankings, however, and claiming two majors along the way, the
2001 and 2004 U.S. Opens.

A trip back to Polokwane Golf Club, a town 400km north of
Johannesburg, also holds no fear for Goosen who went straight
back out on to the course at the first opportunity.

"No, I'm not even thinking about the lightning incident,"
the 36-year-old Goosen told Reuters. "I've played there loads
of times since I was struck.

"I'm sure it will be a talking point amongst the media and
on TV next week but it's not something I even think of."


Goosen has strong links in the town where his parents and
one of his two brothers still live. He is still a member of the
Polokwane Golf Club and lends his name and financial support to
a golf academy in the town.

"My schedule just worked out so that I'm able to play more
tournaments in South Africa this year," said Goosen, who will
also defend his title at Sun City Golf Challenge next month.

"The main reason I'm playing is to support the town of
Polokwane and the golf club, give something back because I have
my academy there and try help the juniors out a bit.

"It's just unfortunate that we have had such a bad drought
up there for the last year or so.

"There was a bit of rain last weekend, which will make the
course greener and better to look at but it won't make it play
any easier. Of course the bushveld can get very dry but I have
not seen it as dry as this in the last 12 years."

It will be something of a family reunion for the
jet-setting golfer who has homes in the United States and

"I will be staying with my parents (Theo and Annetjie)
while I'm there so it's going to be great, I'm pretty excited,"
Goosen said.

"It's going to be nice to get back home and play in front
of my friends and family. My one brother still stays in
Polokwane and the plan is for each of my brothers, Francois and
Philip, to caddy for me for two rounds, assuming I make the