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GOOSEN wins the U.S. Open

Retief Goosen can laugh now about one of the greatest gaffes in golf history because he overcame it all Monday to win the U.S. Open.

The soft-spoken South African redeemed himself with rock-solid play, winning an 18-hole playoff against Mark Brooks.

Haunted by a three-putt from 12 feet that cost him the championship Sunday, a determined Goosen was golden Monday. This time, he eliminated the suspense by rolling in a 6-footer for an even-par 70 Monday and a two-stroke victory at Southern Hills.

His shocking finish Sunday gave way to a rout in the playoff, thanks to a two-shot swing on Nos. 9 and 10 that put Goosen in control.

Of all things, it was his putting that made him the U.S. Open champion. He took only 12 putts on his first 10 holes, and faced with a tough chip on the slope to the 18th green, Goosen removed any risk by blasting his putter up the hill to the green.

From 6 feet away, he needed only two putts.

Goosen turned into the U.S. Open champion no one expected. This was supposed to be about Tiger Woods going for a fifth straight major.

Instead it was Goosen, whose career almost ended 15 years ago when he was struck by lightning. He went from a journeyman to a champion over the last five days _ a trip that felt much longer.

``I had to work hard for this one,'' he said. ``It's been a long week. It seems like a year. I was very solid all week, except yesterday afternoon. It's just amazing.''

Goosen earned $900,000, nearly as much as his best season on the European tour, and became only the second international player in the past 20 years to win the U.S. Open.

The other was fellow South African Ernie Els, who won in 1994 and 1997.

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