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Goose stands tall at Pebble Beach

Goose stands tall at Pebble BeachTIL Desk/ Twice U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen will be standing a little taller at this week’s Pebble Beach National Pro-Am after having back surgery last year to resurrect a career he thought might be over. The soft-spoken South African had an operation in London to repair a disintegrated disc and with a titanium and rubber replacement now installed, he estimates he has grown eight millimetres. “I’m feeling good,” Goosen told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for Thursday’s opening round in the pro-am celebrity event played on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula. “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.”

A seven-times winner on the PGA Tour, Goosen tied for 48th in last year’s PGA Championship before he was sidelined for the rest of the season after having back surgery in London on August 21. “At that point, my back was so messed up I pretty much couldn’t play anymore,” the 44-year-old recalled. “It was impossible to go through 18 holes without getting spasms in the back and struggling to hit some shots on certain lies. “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.”

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