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Goosen goes from the goat to glamor boy

The best part of Retief Goosen's day wasn't the chance to play a British Open practice round with Gary Player or the fans' eagerness for his autograph.

It came later Tuesday, when a session with the media included only one question about his agonizing three-putt from 12 feet at the U.S. Open last month.

What could have gone down as one of the biggest gaffes in golf history now is only a footnote, placed there by Goosen himself when he came back the next day to convincingly win the Open in a playoff with Mark Brooks.

His no longer is a story about bowing to pressure. It's about redemption and the opportunities that come with it.

"I suppose coming back the next day to win it in a playoff made it extra special," Goosen said.

With two putts to win the U.S. Open, Goosen's failure to close it out on the 72nd hole loomed for at least one night alongside Jean Van De Velde's collapse two years ago in the British Open at Carnoustie.

But Goosen redeemed himself with the playoff win, and followed it last weekend by beating a strong field in the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.

Suddenly, the reserved and soft-spoken South African is recognized as the hottest player this side of Tiger Woods.

"It's nice to get on a run like this," Goosen said. "I am coming to play well and if I play well enough to win by the end of the week, it will be great."

The price Goosen pays is one of instant fame, something he says he has enjoyed so far.

"So many people are asking for my autograph now," he said. "In the past I just zoomed around the course. Now I can't get to the next tee without having to sign 100 autographs."

It's not exactly Tigermania, but for Goosen it's as close as it will get.

"It has been great, all the attention," Goosen said. "It hasn't bothered us at all. I don't think it has changed anything in our lives, though. We still carry on the way we have been going."

That could change, especially if Goosen can make it three national opens in a row this weekend at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

"There is pressure on me having to try and play well, but at the same time I know I am playing quite well," Goosen said. "Maybe the combination will be good this week. Having got a little pressure on me, I will just try a bit harder."

Goosen's newfound popularity may have more to do with how he won the U.S. Open than the fact he merely won it. He handled his 72nd-hole debacle with class and without excuses.

"To win a U.S. Open, if you don't have any belief in you by then that you can win a major championship, I don't think you ever will have," Goosen said. "Now I have been there and know I can play under that sort of pressure, I see myself having more chances in the other majors than before."

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