Goosen Lays an Egg on Sunday

By Associated PressJune 19, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Last year, the stoic walk up the final fairway was a victory march for Retief Goosen. This time, the 18th hole felt more like an escape route.
The U.S. Open finally caught up to Retief The Robot on Sunday, turning what was supposed to be a coronation for one of the best players in the game into an out-and-out embarrassment.
Retief Goosen
Even Retief Goosen can't explain his final-round 81 at Pinehurst.
He shot 11-over-par 81. He turned a three-stroke lead into an eight-stroke loss. First place became a tie for 11th. A chance at history morphed into an ugly footnote.
'I messed up badly,' Goosen said. 'I obviously threw this away.'
He ended the final round not contending for his second straight Open title but merely hoping to win a friendly bet with playing partner Jason Gore, who was equally awful, over the last three holes.
(For the record, Goosen didn't say what the wager was, but he won it.)
After hitting his final approach, Goosen took off his cap, ran his fingers through his hair and trudged toward the green, the formality of a two-putt the only thing standing between him and the end to a long, difficult day. From the expression on his face, it was hard to tell if he was in first place or last.
But the patient, steady play that had served him so well through his previous seven rounds of U.S. Open competition had left him much earlier in the day. He was an also-ran by the end.
Looking back as far as the records would take them, USGA officials said Goosen's 81 tied Gil Morgan (1992 at Pebble Beach) for the worst final round ever for a U.S. Open leader. Morgan could blame high winds that victimized most of the field.
At Pinehurst, the villain was the course, not the weather.
'It's just one of those rounds,' Goosen said. 'I haven't putted this badly in a long time. We all have bad rounds. It's unfortunate it happened in this tournament.'
Heading into play Sunday, the smart money said the Open was pretty much over, with Goosen ahead by three strokes and journeymen Gore and Olin Browne his closest competition.
Even his competitors were ready to put his name on the trophy.
'I don't think any player is better than him in the U.S. Open, Tiger included,' Ernie Els said after finishing around the time Goosen teed off.
And Stewart Cink: 'His composure is up there with the best of them and he won't let it go south.'
Had either man seen Goosen's front nine, they would have been shocked.
It started going downhill on the second hole, when he missed the green to the right, then overhit his chip and rolled it onto the other side. His putt went 8 feet past and after two more putts, he had double bogey.
His lead over eventual winner Michael Campbell dwindled to one stroke there, and after Goosen three-putted the next two holes - he left a putt for eagle 6 feet shot on the fourth - his plunge down the leaderboard began.
'I had a bad start, and from then on, it was pretty much downhill all the way,' Goosen said.
By the time the Goose had reached the turn, he was trailing Campbell by two. By the time Goosen hit No. 11, tournament officials had put him and Gore on the clock, not because they're slow by nature, but 'because we had just had to hit so many shots,' he said.
Goosen's walk up 18 with Gore was strange because, even though they were the last two players on the course, Campbell was already crying and celebrating, his championship having been secured 20 minutes earlier.
'I would have loved to have been in it for at least the last five holes, having a chance,' Goosen said. 'But after No. 12, I was out of it.'
It was a disheartening end to a week that began with Goosen complaining about not getting the attention normally afforded a defending U.S. Open champion and continued with the golf world starting to come to grips with the idea that, boring or not, Goosen really did belong up there with the game's elite.
In the end, he still finished third among the Big Five, behind Woods and Vijay Singh but ahead of Els (15th) and Phil Mickelson (33rd), both of whom played themselves out of the tournament before the weekend.
Still, it was a stunning decline for a player previously thought unflappable. And in the end, even he proved vulnerable to beastly Pinehurst No. 2 and the withering U.S. Open conditions.
'Sometimes, things happen like that,' he said. 'But it was a great year being the U.S. Open champion and I'm looking forward to coming back and trying again.'
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”