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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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.