JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – No golfer spent more time Thursday at the PGA Championship than Paul Goydos.
And he didn’t even get to play.
Goydos was among the first to arrive at Atlanta Athletic Club, hopeful that his long day would end with a chance to play in the final major of the year. He was the first alternate – as he had been since Monday – and a message he put out on Twitter some nine hours after he arrived said it all.
A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, who shot a 59 last year at the John Deere Classic, Goydos was fully aware that he could set a personal record for most time spent on a golf course without hitting a meaningful shot.
“You could say most of the shots I hit are not very meaningful, anyway,” he quipped.
Unlike the U.S. Open, Goydos at least was allowed to play practice rounds at Atlanta Athletic Club. At the U.S. Open, alternates only are allowed on the practice areas until they are in the field.
There’s also a difference for alternates compared with the PGA Tour.
“How’s this: I’ve got to stay on the tee,” Goydos said. “There’s like a blue line, and I’ve got to be inside the blue line, standing there like I’m a vulture. I told them they should give me a black hood and a scarlet letter. It’s an uncomfortable position that I earned.”
That’s where he spent his day. Craig Stevens, a club pro from Dallas, Ga., was the first to tee off at 7:30 a.m. Scott Piercy, the Reno-Tahoe Open winner, was the last to tee off short before 3 p.m. That’s when it was time for Goydos to go home.
The PGA Championship has the strongest field in golf, so strong that even the alternates can win, as John Daly did in 1991 at Crooked Stick. Goydos said he was not bothered that 57-year-old Jerry Pate, playing in only his second major in the past 20 years, asked the PGA for a special invitation even though he knows he can’t contend.
Pate wanted this to be his farewell to major championship golf because he won his only major – the U.S. Open in 1976 – at Atlanta Athletic Club and he was born in Georgia. He wound up shooting a 77.
“They have criteria for entry, and the criteria is the top 70” in PGA Tour money the last year, Goydos said. “I think I was 80, so we got five or six guys over the 70. That’s a bonus. So no, I don’t think he’s taking a spot. Arguably, you could say the way I’ve been playing, maybe I’d be taking up a spot. My record in the majors is nothing to write home about.
“For a player to complain, that’s petty at best.”
As Stevens was announced on the first tee, Goydos walked down toward the teeing ground, took a sports drink from the cooler and settled in for a long day.
His year is not a total loss. Even though he didn’t qualify for PGA Championship, he already has earned over $1.1 million this year and is 92nd in the FedEx Cup standings on the PGA Tour, assured of at least one playoff event later this month.