Retief Goosen has plenty of Pinehurst memories from nine years ago, but the veteran also appears eager to bring some momentum from Memphis with him to the U.S. Open next week.
Goosen opened the FedEx St. Jude Classic with a 4-under 66 at TPC Southwind, one shot behind Peter Malnati. The South African began on the back nine and rattled off four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 13-17, then balanced two bogeys with two birdies on his second half. It ties his lowest opening round this season, as Goosen also started with 66 en route to a T-8 finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Next week will mark the conclusion of Goosen's 10-year exemption into the U.S. Open, a privilege that stems from his triumph at Shinnecock Hills in 2004. He nearly captured the trophy again at Pinehurst No. 2 the following year, carrying a lead into Sunday, before collapsing with a final-round 81. Goosen tied for 11th, eight shots behind winner Michael Campbell, and missed out on a chance to win the U.S. Open for a third time across a five-year span from 2001-2005.
After battling injury last year, the 45-year-old has begun to rekindle his form this season, with three top-25 finishes including a tie for seventh at the Shell Houston Open. He has cracked the top 25 four times in the U.S. Open since leaving Pinehurst empty-handed, including a T-10 finish at the Olympic Club two years ago.