Biography of Golf Hall of Famer Retief Goosen
Retief Goosen is a two-time major championship winner in golf. His place as one of the best South African golfers ever was cemented by his election to the World Golf Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021.
Fast Facts: Retief Goosen
- Occupation: Professional golfer
- Nickname: The Goose
- Born: February 3, 1969, in Polokwane, South Africa
- Key Accomplishments: More than 20 combined wins on the PGA Tour and European Tour, two wins in the U.S. Open
- Spouse: Tracy (married 2001)
- Children: Leo and Ella Ann
- Fun Fact: Goosen owns vineyards in South Africa and produces his own wine under “The Goose” label.
Early Life and Amateur Golf
Goosen began playing golf at age nine, introduced to the sport by his father. Within several years, he was playing, and winning, junior and amateur tournaments in South Africa.
In January 1985, at age 15, Goosen was struck by lightning during a round of golf. He was knocked unconscious, his clothes burned off his body, and left with no memory of the event. But remarkably, he was back playing golf within a few weeks. Later that year Goosen was part of the winning team in the Transvaal Amateur Team Championships.
Goosen’s biggest win as an amateur was the 1990 South African Amateur Championships. He won 30 regional and national amateur titles total in his homeland before, in 1990, turning professional.
Career on the Pro Tours
Goosen immediately made his mark in pro golf on his home tour, the Sunshine Tour in South Africa, earning Rookie of the Year honors following the 1991 season. That year included his first win as a pro golfer, the Iscor Newcastle Classic.
After three wins on the Sunshine Tour in 1992, Goosen moved up to the European Tour beginning in 1993. From 1996 through 2007, he won at least once on the European Tour every year but one.
That productive stretch included leading the European Tour money list in 2001 and 2002, becoming the first non-European golfer to win the Order of Merit crown in back-to-back seasons. Goosen was named the tour’s Player of the Year following the 2001 season.
And 2001 was also the first year in which Goosen took up membership on the PGA Tour. Goosen won twice on the European Tour that year, once on on the PGA Tour.
But 2004 was his best season: Goosen had two wins and nine Top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour, one win and four Top 10s (in only eight starts) on the European Tour. His two PGA Tour wins were the U.S. Open and Tour Championship, where the runners-up were, respectively, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
From 2001 through 2007, Goosen was in the Top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking more than 250 weeks. His highest year-end ranking was fourth following both the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
Along the way, Goosen was a mainstay on Team International in the Presidents Cup, playing in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Various injuries, including back problems, slowed Goosen as he entered his 40s. His world ranking tumbled and the wins dried up. Goosen returned to fitness in his late 40s, however, and, while no wins have happened since 2009, had numerous strong showings.
He turned 50 in 2021 and began playing on the Champions Tour. His first senior win was a major, the 2021 Senior Players Championship. Outside of competition, Goosen’s interests in golf include launching a golf course design business.
Goosen in the Major Championships
The feathers in Goosen’s cap are his two victories in the U.S. Open. His first happened in 2001 when, after finishing 72 holes tied with Mark Brooks, Goosen defeated Brooks the next day in an 18-hole playoff.
In 2004, under brutal playing conditions at Shinnecock Hills, Goosen survived the final round as most of his challengers collapsed.
Goosen came close in a few other majors. He was runner-up at the 2002 Masters, and finished third, third and second, respectively, in The Masters from 2005-07.
Surprisingly, outside of his two victories in the U.S. Open, Goosen finished no higher than 10th in that tournament any other year. He has 16 career Top 10 finishes in majors, eight of them in the British Open.
List of Goosen’s Pro Tour Victories
PGA Tour (7)
- 2001 U.S. Open
- 2002 BellSouth Classic
- 2003 Chrysler Championship
- 2004 U.S. Open
- 2004 The Tour Championship
- 2005 The International
- 2009 Transitions Championship
European Tour (14)
- 1996 Slaley Hall Northumberland Challenge
- 1997 Peugeot Open de France
- 1999 Novotel Perrier Open de France
- 2000 Trophee Lancome
- 2001 U.S. Open
- 2001 The Scottish Open at Loch Lomond
- 2001 Telefonica Open de Madrid
- 2002 Johnnie Walker Classic
- 2003 Trophee Lancome
- 2004 U.S. Open
- 2004 Smurfit European Open
- 2005 Linde German Masters
- 2005 South African Airways Open
- 2007 Commercialbank Qatar Masters
Goosen also has nine wins on the Sunshine Tour in his native South Africa (the first in 1991, most-recent in 2009), plus five wins on the Asian Tour (two of them co-sanctioned by the European Tour).
Champions Tour (1)
- 2021 Senior Players Championship