Goosen feeling better, playing better at


NAPA, Calif. – After years of nagging injuries, Retief Goosen feels pain-free strolling the fairways this week at the Open. Not surprisingly, the South African’s improved health has also led to improved performance.

Goosen carded seven birdies en route to a 6-under 66 in the third round at Silverado Resort & Spa, and he heads into the final round at 10 under, tied for seventh, as he looks for just his second top-10 finish since January.

“I drove the ball a lot better today,” said Goosen, who missed only two greens in regulation Saturday. “The first few rounds I missed a lot of fairways, and today I drove it well. Gave myself a bunch of birdie chances.” Open: Articles, videos and photos

Goosen is well-rested, having last teed it up at The Barclays, and insists the back pain that plagued him for much of the last few years is now gone after a successful surgical procedure that essentially gave the 45-year-old a second shot at the game.

“It was the difference between giving up the game and not playing again,” he said. “I got to a point where I couldn’t really walk anymore. The British Open a few years ago, I pulled out after the first round because I couldn’t walk. So it got to a point where it was the operation and it’s better, or operation and I’m in the same boat.”

Now 10 years removed his second U.S. Open triumph, Goosen is eager to feel the final-round pressures of being in contention as he seeks his first win since the 2009 Valspar Championship.

“It’s been awhile,” he said. “It will be nice to have that extra bit of power in the swing, the nerves.”