Goydos Comes Up Short at THE PLAYERS

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2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Paul Goydos hit the first and the last ball into the murky lagoon surrounding the famed par-3 17th during The Players Championship.
 
One was much more costly than the other.
 
Goydos wedge shot from 128 yards came up a little short in the first playoff hole Sunday against Sergio Garcia, ending his chance at winning for the third time in 16 years on the PGA Tour.
 
The hole was designed to do exactly what it did. It got me instead of somebody else, said Goydos, a 43-year-old self-described journeyman.
 
Goydos, who started the day with a one-shot lead over Kenny Perry, also missed a 15-foot par putt on the last hole for the win. He closed with a 74.
 
And then he headed back to the most notorious hole on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
 
He had hoped to hit the same shot that carded him a par at the island green about a half-hour earlier. The sun was still casting long shadows, the wind still blowing left to right at a steady 30 mph and the pin still tucked behind a bunker on the right side.
 
Goydos wanted the same result, something in the middle of the green that would give him a chance at birdie.
 
No such luck.
 
He ended up with something more like his shot at 17 on Thursday, which ended up wet and was the first of 65 balls to find the water.
 
Goydos ball flight was a bit high this time around, causing it to hang in the stiff breeze and then fall a few feet short of the fringe.
 
This one kind of floated on me and the ball ended up sinking, he said.
 
Goydos still figured he had a shot, especially at such a treacherous hole that wreaked havoc on most of the field all weekend.
 
But Garcia knocked his tee shot to 4 feet, essentially sealing a victory. Goydos patted the 28-year-old Spaniard on the back, conceding defeat, then hit a third shot from the drop area knowing he needed to hole out for a tie. From there, Goydos just tried to get out of the way of Garcias victory celebration.
 
Goydos tipped his hat to the crowd and nodded to Garcia as he walked off the green, a gracious gesture in a difficult defeat.
 
I played good golf, and as people have found out, that doesnt mean win unfortunately, Goydos said. You cant control it. No defense. I couldnt tackle the little guy. Hes probably not little; thats probably not a fair thing. He could probably take me pretty easily.
 
But you cant kneecap him. You just have to accept the guy beat you and move on.
 
The consolation for Goydos was $1.026 million for second place, more than he earned for winning the Sony Open last year.
 
He also found more support than he ever could have imagined, a large gallery following every shot and strangers chanting him name after just about every shot.
 
In a sense, I got to feel what it was like to be Tiger Woods, he said. Thats from a crowd standpoint, not a talent standpoint.
 
Goydos had a few shots that looked like the worlds No. 1 player, though.
 
He overcame five bogeys with two unlikely birdies, a 50-footer on No. 4 and chipping in from 100 feet on No. 10. He regained the lead on the par-5 16th with a two-putt birdie from 60 feet on the fringe.
 
But he couldnt hold it on the tough closing hole. His drive on the 18th found the right rough, not too hard to do given the gusts sweeping across the fairway in that direction. He punched out to 50 yards short of the green, but chunked his wedge to 15 feet and missed the putt.
 
I may have made some mistakes, but the day I dont make mistakes is the day Im dead, Goydos said. But thats part of the game. To an extent, I got beat. To an extent, I, OK, gave it away a little bit.
 
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