Goosen Grabs BellSouth Lead
The South African, whose only victory on American soil came in last year's U.S. Open, shot a 4-under-par 68 in the third round of the BellSouth Classic to take a two-stroke lead over Mickelson.
Goosen launched a streak of five birdies in six holes by sinking a 20-foot putt at No. 9, one of the toughest tests on the TPC at Sugarloaf. He signed for the lowest score of the day, one of just 10 players who broke into the 60s.
Three days of sunny skies and steady breezes turned the greens rock-hard, mimicking conditions that will be the norm at Augusta National next weekend.
Mickelson found out just how tricky those greens can be, four-putting the 13th to rekindle memories of a similar debacle at The Players Championship.
'If you get on the wrong side of the flag, anything can happen - no matter how good your short game is,' said Goosen, who knows a thing or two about missing short putts. 'I'm a little surprised he's not higher.'
Still, Mickelson was in contention for the 21st victory of his career, more than any active player except Tiger Woods.
Goosen had bogeys at 16 and 18, finishing with a 14-under 202. Mickelson was at 204 after shooting a third-round 71.
'The greens are very difficult,' Lefty said. 'I made countless 4- to 6-footers for par. Obviously, I missed one at 13, but I hit a lot of good shots. For the most part, I thought I played well.'
After making the turn with a two-stroke lead over Goosen, Mickelson found himself tied when he walked away from the par-5 10th.
Goosen birdied the hole, while Mickelson came up a club short with his second shot - winding up in the front bunker.
Mickelson chunked his sand wedge - barely clearing the lip of the bunker - and left the ensuing chip 12 feet from the flag. He missed the putt for just his third bogey of the tournament, knowing this was a hole where he should have done no worse that par.
Then came the meltdown at 13, the shortest par-4 on the course at 310 yards. Playing in the group ahead of Mickelson, Goosen came through with another birdie, leaving his tee shot just off the green, chipping to 19 feet and sinking the putt.
Mickelson drove onto the green for the second time in three days, but it did him no good. His first putt, downhill from about 50 feet away, stopped short and left a testy 3-footer.
The birdie attempt slid 6 feet past the hole, and the comebacker missed, too. Mickelson finally tapped in and walked off the green shaking his head.
Flash back to The Players two weeks ago. Mickelson knocked himself out of contention by five-putting the 10th green for a quadruple-bogey 8. The middle three putts were from 5 feet - and two of those were rush jobs.
Mickelson said this situation was different.
'I don't think this did nearly as much damage as the Players,' he said. 'People are going to make bogeys out there. I'm still right there atop the leaderboard. To be 12 under, I think that's some pretty good playing.'
Goosen has made a bunch of long putts - just as he did last year at the U.S. Open before his infamous 18-inch miss on the 72nd hole left him tied with Mark Brooks.
Goosen recovered to win an 18-hole playoff the following day, the biggest victory of his career.
The somber South African began his surge to the BellSouth lead at No. 9, a 465-yard hole that surrendered only 10 birdies all day. He sank a 25-footer for birdie at the 12th, then another 20-footer at 13.
'I'm pretty happy where I am,' Goosen said. 'I've not been playing well this week at all. But I've been putting great, and that's why I am where I am.'
Steve Elkington, who led after the first round and was tied with Mickelson heading into Saturday, struggled to a 73 in the difficult conditions.
The Australian was still in contention for his first victory since 1999, four strokes back at 206 in a tie with Mike Weir.
Thomas Bjorn, who entered the BellSouth hoping to improve his game for the Masters, shot a 69 and was alone in third at 205.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Colin Montgomerie had the second hole-in-one of the tournament, using an 8-iron to sink his tee shot on the 172-yard 16th.
*Jesper Parnevik made a hole-in-one Friday on the eighth, but not much has gone right for the Swede since then. He's 7-over since holing out, including a third-round 76 that knocked him out of contention.
*The most surprising player in the field? That's easy. Zach Johnson, a regular on the Hooters Tour, was at 208 - tied for eighth - playing in just his second PGA Tour event. Johnson had to qualify on Monday just to earn a spot in the field.
Full-field scores from the BellSouth Classic
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.