Notes Goosen Making Changes

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2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Retief Goosen made it sound as though he was making minor adjustments in his swing when he hired a coach for the first time in nine years. Turns out those changes are closer to an overhaul.
 
Goosen did not want to go into great detail, but he said some major flaws have crept into his game the last few years.
 
'At normal speed, it's hard to see them,' he said. 'But when you slow it down, you can see the problems.'
 
Thursday at the TOUR Championship was a small hurdle. He hit eight fairways in blustery conditions, and the ones he missed were not off by much. The result was a 68 that left him tied with Joe Durant.
 
'I've been trying to work on a few things,' he said. 'It's obviously not easy going out there and trusting it, but today in these conditions to get a good round in sort of gives you a bit more confidence going into the next few days.'
 
Goosen said last week he has hired Gregor Jamieson, a pro at Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando, Fla., where Goosen has a house for about 50 days a year. One reason he chose Jamieson is their relationship, and the fact that Jamieson doesn't have a lot of other clients.
 
The South African said his swing started to break down in 2004, when he won the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and closed with a 64 at East Lake to become one of only three players to win a tournament in which Tiger Woods had a share of the 54-hole lead.
 
What saved him two years ago was his putting, although he hasn't hit it close enough to the flag to make many putts this year.
 
'It's going to be a slow process,' he said. 'It's something I decided on a couple of months ago to start working with somebody, and I want to do it now until the end of the year so when I start next year it's not all that new to me.'
 
FLUFF AILING
Mike Hicks, the former caddie for Payne Stewart who now works for Jonathan Byrd, was hopeful of getting to the TOUR Championship. Byrd needed to win last week at Innisbrook, and he had a good chance until stumbling to a 73 in the third round.
 
Turns out Hicks made it to East Lake, anyway -- working for Jim Furyk.
 
Mike 'Fluff' Cowan, the regular looper for Furyk, called last week to say he had traces of pneumonia and couldn't make it to the TOUR Championship. Furyk gave Hicks a call, then had to make sure he was still available.
 
TOUGH FINISH
East Lake is the only PGA TOUR course that closes with a par 3 -- except when Congressional hosts the U.S. Open -- and it's no picnic.
 
The scorecard has it at 235 yards from an elevated tee, with bunkers guarding both sides. No one made birdie on the final hole Thursday until the last two groups, when Adam Scott and Jim Furyk each holed putts.
 
'You come into that hole on Sunday, you'd like to have a two-shot lead,' Joe Durant said. 'That's just a hard hole.'
 
It has settled the TOUR Championship only once -- the first year, in 1998 -- when Hal Sutton saved par from a bunker to force a playoff, then hit 4-wood to 6 feet for birdie on the first extra hole to defeat Vijay Singh.
 
Phil Mickelson (2000) and Singh (2002) each won by two shots, while Retief Goosen won by four shots in 2004 and Bart Bryant won by six shots a year ago.
 
Goosen lost the outright lead on Thursday when he tried to hit a hard draw with a 3-iron, but blocked it into the bunker and blasted out to about 4 feet, missing the putt. Still, he likes the finish at East Lake.
 
'It's different to have a par 3 as a finish,' he said. 'I think it's better than having a par 5 as a finishing hole.'
 
ON THE BUBBLE
There aren't many bubbles at East Lake, but Dean Wilson is on one of them.
 
Hawaii's best player is No. 20 on the money list, and staying there means an exemption to the British Open next year, along with an incentive from one of his endorsement contracts.
 
Playing in his first TOUR Championship, he struggled with six bogeys against one birdie, giving him a 75. That projects to a finish at No. 23 on the money list. Even if that happens, it would be tough to call this a disappointment. He has never finished higher than 98th on the money list, and he won for the first time on tour this year at the International.
 
FORGOTTEN ABSENTEE
With so much focus on Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson skipping the TOUR Championship, also missing is Stephen Ames, who won The Players Championship this year.
 
Ames had to miss the last two weeks of the season with a back injury.
 
Unlike the other two players, however, Ames will get last-place money of $106,500 because he withdrew with an injury. The earnings will not count toward the money list.
 
DIVOTS
David Toms and Vijay Singh are the only players to have teed it up in the last eight TOUR Championships. ... Jim Furyk was the only player to make birdie on the 520-yard fifth hole, which plays as a par 4. No one made birdie at No. 16, and those two holes played the toughest Thursday with an average score of 4.419. ... Stewart Cink had the most consistent round at East Lake, making only two bogeys in his round of 69.
 
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