Retief Goosen (born 3 February 1969) is a South African professional golfer who has been in the top ten in the Official World Golf Rankings for over 250 weeks between 2001 and 2007. His main achievements have been two U.S. Open wins (in 2001 and 2004) and heading the European Tour Order of Merit (money list) in 2001 and 2002.
Goosen was born in Pietersburg (now Polokwane), South Africa. He is the son of Theo Goosen, a local real estate agent and amateur golfer who introduced the game of golf to Retief at an early age. Theo took a strict approach to parenting. "Look, I never made life easy for my kids," said Theo "We never spoiled them. We never pleasurized them." Goosen even admits that his father put pressure on him. When Goosen was fifteen he was golfing with his friend Henri Potgieter at Pietersburg Golf Club. They were playing through a small drizzle when lightning struck. Henri was knocked from his feet and when he stood back up saw Retief lying on the ground on his back. Henri retold the story to Golf World "I wanted to know his reaction. What I did see was his golf clubs and his golf bag. Then I saw him lying on his back. His tongue was down his throat and his eyes were backward, and he was breathing weird. He had no clothes on; they'd been burned from his body. I remember picking up his spectacles. I didn't know what to do. It looked like he was dead. I was screaming for help. Fortunately, there were guys teeing off on the 12th hole. They came running toward us. From then on, I can't remember much. They picked him up and put him in a car." Goosen's shoes had disintegrated from his feet, his underwear and watch band had melted to his body. He retains a scar on his wrist from the incident. He was unable to put his shoes on for weeks afterwards. He recovered enough to grab another set of clubs and take up the game a few weeks later. Goosen doesn't remember the events that happened, but his father took his son's survival as a sign from God as good things to come.
Goosen turned professional in October 1990, following a win in the South African Amateur Championship of the same year in July. He won the European Tour's Qualifying School in 1992 and enjoyed success on the Tour between 1992 and 2000, but it was not until 2001 where he made his name in America with a U.S. Open win on a very tough Southern Hills Country Club golf course. He nearly lost his chance at victory after three putting from 12 feet, missing a two foot put on the final green, but managed to recover to make a playoff with the 1996 PGA Championship winner Mark Brooks. Goosen dominated the next day's 18-hole playoff, eventually winning by two strokes. Later that summer, he completed his second wire-to-wire victory of the year at The Scottish Open at Loch Lomond. He finished 2001 with three wins, 11 top-tens and the European Tour Order of Merit and followed it up with another in 2002 he also became the first non-European to win the Order of Merit. After his third win of the 2001 season, he rose to a career-high 11th in the world rankings. In 2002, he won on both the PGA Tour and European Tour for the second straight year, a feat that would last for three more years. He won a second U.S. Open in 2004, where he had 11 one-putts in the final round at a tough test at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. He then rose to his career high world ranking position of 3rd. He won on the PGA Tour each year from 2001 to 2005 with six wins, and he added a seventh win in March 2009 at the Transitions Championship.