PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- The term "comfort zone" can be a dirty one in golf: when a golfer has a tough time making that leap to a score lower than ever before, stuck in eternity at a certain handicap.
Evidently, we should all learn a thing or two from Peter Goulish, who won the Hogan flight (8.0-11.9) with a blistering 71 at Fox Hollow Golf Club in the final round of the National Championship to shock the field and win by three shots.
His four-day card reveals a little of everything: 78-88-81-71. The 71, he admitted, was his lowest score ever shot in tournament play by six shots. In fact, his previous low came at the Tour Championship at Orange County National - which earned him a 3rd place finish -and cemented himself as the final qualifier for the 150-person Hogan flight.
Goulish made the decision to ramp up his tournament schedule in 2016 and play 14 events rather than the customary handful of events in a normal season. He lives near Innisbrook Resort & Club in Tarpon Springs and relied on course knowledge to whittle through the 150-person field, the largest of the six flights in this week's National Championship.
Goulish said prior to the round, he thought shooting even par would be his only chance to make up the 8-shot deficit. Sure enough, he went out and got it. He birdied the 1st and 5th holes.
Things started to get a little more tense as he realized what was happening, and bogeyed three out of four holes between Nos. 8-11.
"There were some holes that old habits came out and I quickly shut them down," he said. "I was able to move on or limit the damage."
He righted the ship and managed two more birdies on the back nine to finish even par, six shots better than anyone else in his flight. Goulish credited a hot putter, thanks in part to knowing the greens on the four courses very well, not to mention a very comfortable atmosphere in the final round thanks to his playing partners, Al Campos and Todd Nelson.
"They were encouraging and fun to play with. They kept the round going very smoothly."
Rounding out the Top 3 in the flight were Troy Slate, from Canton, Georgia, while Nacho Orozco (San Antonio, Texas) and Michael Van Scoter (Johns Creek, Georgia).
More notables from Hogan: Jordan Babineaux, former NFL safety finished T-7. Kody Conover finished with a strong 80 to finish T-35, and former MLB all-star Desmond "Chone" Figgins finished T-38.