Goosen Puts US Open Meltdown Behind Him

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Three weeks ago, Retief Goosen waited until Sunday to wreck his chances of winning another major championship.
 
This time, he thought it might be over as he strolled away from the fifth green Saturday, having made bogey on one of the Old Course's easiest holes.
 
The South African turned to his caddie, Colin Byrne, and delivered a grim forecast -- though, in all fairness, nothing sounds too foreboding when it comes from Goosen, whose idea of a tantrum is to shake his head ever so slightly.

``I think we're a little bit out of this now,'' Goosen said in his laid-back monotone, sounding as though he might doze off any minute.
 
Byrne came back with a more promising outlook, knowing there was still a lot of shots to hit in the British Open.
 
``Keep grinding,'' the caddie said. ``Keep driving.''
 
Goosen made par on the next hole, then closed out the front nine with three straight birdies. ``Suddenly,'' he said, ``things started looking a bit better.''
 
By the time Goosen got back to the Royal & Ancient clubhouse, having put the finishing touches on a 6-under 66 with a two-putt birdie at 18, Tiger Woods was only one stroke ahead on the scoreboard.
 
Woods, just getting started when Goosen completed his round, added a couple of strokes to the lead before the day was done. But at least Goosen is hopeful again, three shots down instead of eight, in a third-place deadlock with Colin Montgomerie at 9-under 207.
 
If Goosen can avoid the sort of final-round meltdown that cost him so dearly at Pinehurst last month, he might just add a third major title to his resume and solidify his place among the game's top players.
 
Not that Goosen will be thinking about that closing 81 in the U.S. Open. It's just not his style to relish the triumphs or linger over the failures for too long.
 
``No, I'm not determined to make up for it,'' Goosen said. ``It was just one of those things that happened. I'd just like to give myself a chance every time on Sunday and hopefully one day it works out and you win again. That's all you can do in this game.''
 
Riveting stuff? Hardly. But that's the way Goosen approaches the game and life in general.
 
Goosen can get in a huff from time to time. When he came to his interview before the U.S. Open -- as the defending champion, no less -- about a half-dozen reporters showed up.
 
The next day, when Goosen was one shot off the lead, he refused to meet with reporters. And he didn't bother showing up for his scheduled interview before the start of the British Open, telling the Royal & Ancient he was tied up with other matters.
 
While it won't be easy to catch Woods, Goosen hopes to at least get off to a better start than he did on the final day at Pinehurst. He went out in the final group with a three-stroke lead, which was gone by the third hole.
 
From there, the collapse was stunning in its totality -- especially from a player with a reputation for being almost robotic.
 
``It was just one of those days,'' Goosen said. ``Everything I did was wrong. If I hit a good shot, it was the wrong club. I misread the greens a lot. I don't know if there's anything I can say I learned. It was just a big disappointment. It was just one of those rounds.''
 
When Jose Maria Olazabal birdied the final hole Saturday to claim second place at this Open -- two strokes behind Woods -- Goosen was relegated to the next-to-last group with Montgomerie.
 
Not a bad place to be. With everyone chasing Woods and most of the Scottish fans cheering on Monty, Goosen relishes the idea of fading into the background. Maybe no one will notice him until he's holding up the claret jug.
 
``The problem is blocking out what goes on behind the ropes, the noise and people running around everywhere,'' he said.
 
He shrugged off the challenge of chasing Woods, knowing another round of 66 will give him a chance to join fellow South Africans Ernie Els, Gary Player and Bobby Locke as a British Open champion.
 
``It's pretty much in every major -- everybody is trying to beat Tiger,'' Goosen said. ``You feel like if you finish ahead of him, you're going to win the tournament.''
 
He didn't sound the least bit concerned.
 
He never does.
 
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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.