Goosen relishing return

  • Last Updated: January 8 2013, 17:33 GMT

Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen will play his first event since August in Durban this week following back surgery.

Goosen: First event since back surgery last August
Goosen: First event since back surgery last August

Goosen, part of the elite field at the Volvo Golf Champions, described it as "a scary decision" to replace a disc that had "totally disintegrated really".

The 43-year-old South African, who had the operation in London, stated: "The day after surgery I was walking and a week later my back was feeling good.

"It's still feeling great - I'm getting a bit tight from hitting a few rounds in the last couple of weeks and played about six rounds of golf in the last couple of weeks, but so far still good.

"I'm very excited about the new year. I don't really know what to expect - you're feeling good and sort of keen to play again after five months.

"I like Durban Country Club - I lost by a shot to Ernie (Els) in the SA Open - and hopefully that will help me this week.

"I'm not really sitting here expecting to win, but you never know in this game."

Goosen will also remember losing a play-off along with Els to their compatriot Branden Grace in this event at Fancourt last January.

"Obviously the last three years have been pretty bad. I really struggled with my back and last year I tried a bit of everything - injections, loads of physio, anything you could think of - but nothing really helped," he added.

"In the end we had no choice but to have the operation.

"About two weeks ago, just before the deadline to enter for this, I decided I would enter and see how I feel.

"My swing does feel a little bit different. It feels like I can stay on top of the ball a little bit easier. Last year I had a problem of falling back because my back was leaning that way.

"It's just now a question of getting some strength back."

Grace and Open champion Els are also playing, but Miguel Angel Jimenez has had to pull out after breaking his leg skiing and Ryder Cup star Peter Hanson has also withdrawn.

Padraig Harrington is back on the course where he made his European Tour debut in 1996, finishing 49th.

"From tee to green I played horrendously, but I got up and down on every single hole possible and holed every single putt that would go in," he said.

The 41-year-old Dubliner, who failed to make the Ryder Cup last September, has deliberately put on about 20 pounds in recent months to try to climb back to the top of the game.

"There's many reasons, but it's very important in this day and age to hit the golf ball a long way," he added.

"Power is based on speed. I have spent a long number of years working on the speed part of the equation, so since the middle of the summer I concentrated more on the strength part."

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