Furyk, Goosen share lead at Transitions

By Doug FergusonMarch 18, 2012, 12:01 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. ' Retief Goosen was about ready to give up.

His lower back was in so much pain that he decided to withdraw next week from Bay Hill so he could get treatment. A double bogey late in his round knocked him nine spots down the leaderboard, which he figured was the end of his hopes to get into the Masters.

One day later, everything changed.

Goosen ran off three straight birdies on the back nine and closed with a tough par from the fairway bunker on the 18th hole Saturday for a 6-under 65 that put him atop the leaderboard with Jim Furyk in the Transitions Championship.

Goosen is No. 52 in the world ranking, and he has to be in the top 50 after next week to avoid missing Augusta National'along with St. Andrews, his favorite course'for the first time since 1999.

Or he can avoid the math and just win the tournament, which comes with an automatic invitation.

Those prospects looked dim when he decided Friday to pull out of Bay Hill and arranged for a protein injection in Virginia on Wednesday. Suddenly, the final round is packed with significance.

Maybe Im fighting for that last spot in Augusta, he said.

Either way, it figures to be quite a battle.

Furyk, determined to overcome an atrocious season in 2011, surged into the lead with a 6-iron that covered the flag on the par-3 15th hole and settled three feet away for a birdie. He fell back into a tie on the 18th hole with a three-putt bogey up a steep ridge. That gave him a 66.

Furyk and Goosen, former U.S. Open champions who have won before at Innisbrook, were at 11-under 202.

I made some birdies out of the rough today and was able to knock some putts in and keep the round going, Furyk said. I played very patient, and when I struggled'no putts were going in'I didnt let it bother me.

Furyk was tied for the lead with Sang-Moon Bae, the South Korean rookie who lost in the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship to Rory McIlroy.

Bae escaped with a par on the par-5 14th after his 3-wood found the water by making an 18-foot putt. He wasnt so fortunate on the 16th, however. He drove left into the trees to protect against water running down the right side of the hole. He pitched out to the fairway into the rough, flew the green and three-putted for a triple bogey.

He at least made birdie on the 17th and wound up with a 68.

Bae was one shot behind, along with Jason Dufner, who struggled to a 71 and hopes is worst round is out of the way as he tries to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.

Dufner tends to see the glass half-full. Even though he made three straight bogeys to lose a five-shot lead in the final hour of the PGA Championship, he thinks about the tough par he made on the 18th to at least get into a playoff that he lost to Keegan Bradley.

And even though Dufners bogey-free streak ended Saturday on a par 5, he walked off the Copperhead Course realizing that he was only one shot behind, very much in the hunt.

Anything can happen with as many people bunched up like that, he said.

How many?

Goosen started the third round five shots out of the lead and finished atop the leaderboard. There are 28 players separated by five shots going into the final round Sunday.

Ernie Els, who likely would need to win to get into the Masters, had a 68 and was only three shots behind. So was Luke Donald, who can return to No. 1 in the world by winning at Innisbrook.

Harrington has been dropping shots since his course-record 61 on Thursday. He had a 72, yet still was only four behind.

The mystery, however, is Goosen.

He has a bulging disk and a degenerating disk in his lower back, which forced him to miss two majors last year. Kicking a soccer ball with his son last month caused it to flare up again, and the pain has been getting worse. What has saved the South African this week is the warm weather and a few adjustments in his stance to help get through the ball.

Its not good, Goosen said.

He plans to get a protein injection in his disks on Wednesday in Virginia, similar to the treatment that Vijay Singh and Fred Couples have received in Germany. Goosens pain was so bad last year that his left leg went numb when he stooped over, and he started to put 90 percent of his weight on the right side.

He has lost length off the tee, which isnt as big of a factor at Innisbrook. He atoned for that with his putting, which has carried him to a pair of U.S. Open titles over the years.

The last three weeks, its really just started getting bad again, Goosen said. So hopefully, Ill be ready to get going again after the Masters'or maybe the Masters, if I play well tomorrow.

Furyk won the Transitions two years ago, part of a big year that ended with a $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup. He hasnt won since then, and Furyk said he had no one to blame but himself for falling out of the top 50.

He couldnt wait for last year to end, though it finally did on a happy note. He shot 69 the last day at Sherwood for a tie for sixth, earning just enough points that he finished the year at No. 50 by two-hundredths of a point. That at least made him eligible for the Masters, though Furyk hasnt had to worry about qualifying for majors for some 10 years.

His long offseason'Furyk didnt return until Pebble Beach'allowed him to clear his head, and he also sorted out some equipment.

My results probably dont look good on paper, but I feel good about the way Im playing, Furyk said. Ive been playing much better golf this year than I was last year.

DIVOTS: Stewart Cink had a hole-in-one on the par-3 eighth, notable in that he said he also made an ace on the same hole 10 years ago Nine of the 20 players separated by four shots going into the final round are not eligible for the Masters. A win comes with an automatic invitation. The group includes Chris DiMarco and former PGA champion Shaun Micheel.

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.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: