Second Not So Bad for Goosen Sabbatini

By Associated PressApril 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Retief Goosen had cleaned out his locker, packed his bags and was angling to catch a flight home for the weekend. Rory Sabbatini didn't have much reason to believe he'd be hanging around at the Masters either come Sunday.
They say second place makes you nothing more than the 'first loser' at tournaments like these, but for the two South Africans who finished tied with Tiger Woods as runners-up, second place didn't seem so bad.
'A very special moment,' Sabbatini called it after a round of 3-under-par 69 that included a 75-foot carnival putt on No. 8 that briefly gave him the lead.
That putt -- a round-the-world, multiple breaker -- had pretty much everything going for it but the clown's mouth and the windmill. It was good for eagle and, with Sabbatini running around, doffing his visor and celebrating as if he'd just won the tournament, it was exactly the kind of made-for-TV moment the Masters has been famous for over the years.
The ungainly bogey he made to follow that eagle, then another bogey on No. 14 after the wind pushed his drive right, were great examples of how wickedly difficult Augusta National had become this week.
'From there, it was pretty much just trying to recover, and I didn't get it done,' said the 31-year-old, who finished the tournament at 3-over 291, two strokes behind winner Zach Johnson.
Still, Sabbatini gets some nice crystal for the eagle, a handsome paycheck, some publicity beyond just being known as a fast-playing hothead and a nice dose of confidence for his next major.
He could use it. Coming into the week, his highest finish in a major was 26th, at last year's Masters. He had missed 12 cuts in 21 majors. He had never done anything remotely close to climbing a leaderboard on Sunday.
'My history in the majors is far from anything spectacular,' Sabbatini said. 'One of my goals has been to improve. So obviously, this is a great start to the year and hopefully something to build on.'
Goosen, meanwhile, doesn't need confidence boosts at this stage.
He's got two U.S. Open championships, and when this Masters morphed into a U.S. Open-style grind, it shouldn't have been surprising to see him leading early in the back nine, in good position to become the first South African to win the Masters since Gary Player in 1978.
He got there with help from back-to-back birdies on Nos. 7 and 8, the first of which came after he salvaged a drive into the pine straw with an amazing low punch shot to 8 feet for the birdie putt.
'But on the back nine,' Goosen said, 'I just couldn't buy a putt at the right time.'
His three-putt on 12 for bogey was the biggest sin, and began his tumble out of the lead.
Some questioned his decision not to hit driver on the reachable par-5 13th, but Goosen said the hybrid club he used would have put him in position to reach the green in two had he hit it well.
'I blocked it out right, laid up, hit the third just a little too hard and hit a good putt,' he said.
The putt missed and a bit later, Goosen caught a terrible break on the par-3 16th, when he hit what looked to be a perfect shot to the middle of the green -- a location that almost always trickles left toward the hole on Sundays, but didn't this time.
But how could he really complain?
He made the cut at 8 over on Friday, a beneficiary of the 10-stroke rule that went into effect this week because scores were so high. When Goosen left the course that day, Johnson was winning with a score of 3 under, which would have left the South African out for the weekend.
'I packed my bags and cleaned out my locker,' he said. 'I wasn't thinking I was coming back.'
But Johnson finished with three straight bogeys and the leaders wound up at 2 under.
'I had to come back the next morning and fill up my locker again,' Goosen said.
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  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.