Goosen standing tall in Monterey
Last updated: 7th February 2013
A slightly taller Retief Goosen will compete at this weekend's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am after recovering from the surgery on his back he undertook in an attempt to resurrect his failing career.
The two-time US Open champion had a disintegrated disc in his spine removed and replaced with a titanium and rubber substitute, and is now standing approximately eight millimeters taller.
"I'm feeling good," Goosen told reporters as he prepared for Thursday's opening round on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula course.
"I think I'm the first ever professional golfer who's had disc replacements who plays on the tours, although there have been hundreds of disc replacements on regular business people."
The soft-spoken South African tied for 48th in last year's PGA Championship before he was sidelined for the rest of the season after having the operation on August 21.
It was impossible to go through 18 holes without getting spasms in the back and struggling to hit some shots on certain lies," the seven-time winner on the PGA Tour added.
"At that point, my back was so messed up I pretty much couldn't play anymore.
"For me the decision (to have surgery) was not easy, but in a way I just felt it could only be better. I don't think my back could get any worse.
"At that stage, I pretty much felt like my career was over. I couldn't hit the ball anymore; I couldn't practise."
While 'The Goose' feels the operation has been a success, he only started hitting balls in practice half-way through December and admitted that it would take some time before he is anywhere near his best.
"You don't quite know what to expect. They were just sort of 70-yard shots, but I felt great.
"First couple of shots it was obviously very interesting.
"A week later, I started hitting drivers then really over Christmas and New Year I felt good and felt like maybe I should go out there and start playing."
Since his surgery, Goosen has competed twice on the European Tour - finishing in a tie for 20th at the Volvo Golf Champions before missing the cut at the Qatar Masters.
"My focus is to play a full schedule in America this year and get back into the swing of things.
"It's nice to be back, and it's nice to be back here," he continued.
"I feel 20 years younger coming in this year. I feel like I got a lot better chance of playing better now than I did the last couple of years at least just because the way I feel."
His relatively poor form in the last couple of years have seen him fall down to 119th on the latest world rankings, and the two-time US Open winner admitted that one of his objectives for the year was to reclaim a place in the top 50.
"I still feel that I have events to win out here," Goosen - who last won at the 2009 Transitions Championship continued.
"I need to really play well now to get into the majors.
With Goosen's world ranking having plummeted to 119th, his main objectives this year include a return to winning ways and reclaiming a place in the top 50.
"I'm only in the U.S. Open at the moment because I've moved way out in the world rankings.
"So my goal is to get back in the majors and the World Golf (Championship) events and try to move up in the world rankings as quick as possible, but you just have to play good golf."
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