Goosen puts back injury behind him

By Jason SobelFebruary 22, 2015, 1:38 am

LOS ANGELES – At its most elite level, golf is growing younger right before our eyes. The man who will chase the career grand slam in two months, Rory McIlroy, is just 25. Jason Day’s recent win vaulted him to fourth in the world at 27. Patrick Reed has a win this year at 24; so does Brooks Koepka. Jordan Spieth won twice late last year at 21. It’s almost enough to send seasoned veterans leaping into the nearest water hazard in hopes of finding a fountain of youth.

Retief Goosen, though, has always been a man of modest means. He isn’t greedy. He doesn’t pine for being an up-and-coming twenty-something once again.

“I wish I was 10 years younger,” the 46-year-old said with a wry smile.

That’s because he’s finally healthy – and so, too, is his game, as evidenced by scores of 66-70-69 that have given him a two-stroke advantage at the Northern Trust Open going into the final round.

Northern Trust Open: Articles, videos and photos

A two-time U.S. Open champion and seven-time PGA Tour winner, it wasn’t so long ago that Goosen had neither the health nor the game to contend at this level. A back injury suffered some five years ago continued to linger. Injections didn’t help. On Aug. 24, 2012, he underwent surgery in London during which a titanium disc was inserted in his back. It was four months before he could even swing a club again.

“When I went in for surgery,” he recalled, “I was talking to my wife that I physically can't play golf anymore, so if surgery is not a success, I'm still in the same boat. So I'm very happy with the way that's turned out. It's now been pretty much almost 2½ years since surgery. My back's feeling great. I have zero back pain.

“The surgery has given me a second life, and hopefully I can continue to play on Tour for a few years to come.”

Call it his own version of the fountain of youth.

To further the metaphor, rather than make one big splash, he’s been mostly treading water until now.

“I feel great,” he beamed. “I mean, five years ago, the way my back was, I felt 46. And now I feel 36. I must say, my body's feeling good. I really can't complain what condition my body is in.”

He can’t complain about his performance so far this week, either.

The man famous for his major triumphs at Southern Hills and Shinnecock Hills is setting the pace on a course which hasn’t held a U.S. Open in 67 years, but feels like it is this week.

Goosen can see the parallels; he can understand how the experience of those long-ago wins could translate into success this week. But he also warns that we should remain wary of connecting the dots too linearly.

“Patience is a big, big key on a course like this,” he explained. “Yeah, I have the experience, but it's been quite a long time ago now, 14 and 11 years ago since I won a U.S. Open.”

That patience paid off on the back nine Saturday, in the form of a pair of big-time bounce-back birdies. After his first bogey of the day on the devilish 10th hole, he reached the par-5 11th in two and two-putted for birdie.

After bogeying three of his next four, Goosen found himself with an awkward stance just off the par-3 16th green, but stabbed at the ball, semi-buried in the rough, and popped it out to perfection, watching it disappear into the bottom of the cup.

“I felt I could get close,” he said. “I knew I couldn't leave it short unless I hit it in the rough in front of me. It just came out perfect and just went in perfect speed.”

The famously stoic South African barely cracked a smile, but that demeanor might help to explain his advantage so far this week.

Following the round, playing partner Graham DeLaet – who at two shots back will pair with him again on Sunday – marveled at Goosen’s ability to maintain such a calm disposition.

“He's a great guy to play with, especially under pressure circumstances, because you can just kind of look at him and see how cool and collected he is, with that just kind of silky smooth bomb that he hits off the tee,” said DeLaet. “He's a fun guy to watch play. I'm a little bit more of an emotional player than that, but I've learned over the years to not get too amped up or too down low. I think playing with him is a good way to just keep the calm and just go about business.”

Whatever happens on Sunday, Goosen will once again just go about his business.

It’s a business that, not so long ago, he thought he might be done with, the back injury keeping him from competing at a high level ever again.

When asked what he’d be doing if the surgery hadn’t been successful, Goosen pondered for a few seconds and smiled.

“I’d be sitting on a beach with a glass of wine,” he surmised.

By the end of Sunday’s final round, he could be lifting that glass to an unlikely victory toast instead.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.