Mr Comeback Goydos Wins Sony Open

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2006 Sony OpenHONOLULU -- With all of the talk all week about the young players in the Sony Open in Hawaii, it was a 42-year-old journeyman who has battled injuries throughout his career that hoisted the trophy on Sunday.

Paul Goydos
Paul Goydos' last win on TOUR came in 1996 at Bay Hill.
Paul Goydos birdied three of his last four holes in the final round to shoot a 3-under 67 and win at 14-under-par 266. It was good for a one-shot win over third-round leader Charles Howell III (70) and the world's 10th-ranked player, Luke Donald (69).

It came down to the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club. Goydos and Howell were tied at 13 under par with Donald one back when Goydos played his second shot one group ahead of the 20-somethings.

Goydos' second rolled 30 feet short of the surface and his chip hit the stick and stopped 2 feet from the hole. He tapped in and waited to see if either Howell or Donald could force a playoff.

Both found the right rough off the tee, but both got their second shots close to the green, but not on the putting surface. Donald also hit the stick with his chip from right of the green and left himself a tap-in birdie to finish one behind Goydos.

That left it up to Howell, the 2001 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, who has only won once on TOUR. He was nearly in the same spot as Goydos a few minutes before him, but he hit his chip too hard and his ball ran 16 feet past the stick.

Howell's putt never threatened the hole and he left with a par.

That gave Goydos his second PGA TOUR victory. His only other win came at the 1996 event at Bay Hill, but the 11-year gap did not matter to a man who has lost his card several times in between wins.

'I do try to win every decade,' joked Goydos, who pocketed $936,000 for the victory. 'That chip shot at 18 could have gone where Charles' did.'

This is a remarkable story for Goydos.

He tied for second in last year's final full-field event, the Chrysler Championship, and the pay day moved him from 160th on the money list inside the top-125 to 97th.

Goydos underwent sinus surgery and hip surgery in 2004. He also dabbled as a substitute teacher while perfecting his craft on the Nationwide Tour in the early '90s.

'This is my job,' admitted Goydos. 'I really don't have any other skills. I'm a little numb. I didn't pay much attention all day. I'm stunned. That's the word I'd use.'

Tadd Fujikawa, the 16-year-old amateur, who became the second-youngest player to make a cut on the PGA TOUR, crashed a bit on Sunday. The local hero, who has produced huge galleries, struggled to a 2-over 72 and tied for 20th place at 5-under-par 275.

Still, the 16-year-old, who upstaged fellow high-schooler Michelle Wie this week, took everything from this week as a positive.

'It's been great. It's unbelievable,' acknowledged the 5-foot-1 Fujikawa, who qualified for last year's U.S. Open at Winged Foot. 'It's the best feeling in the world. It's not something you do everyday. In years to come, I'll be back here.'

World No. 2 Jim Furyk (69), Doug LaBelle II (65), K.J. Choi (68) and reigning PGA TOUR Comeback Player of the Year Steve Stricker (70) shared fourth place at minus-9.

For most of the final round, it appeared to be a two-horse race between Howell and Donald. When Howell converted a 14-foot eagle putt at the ninth, he moved two clear of Donald, with Goydos nowhere in the picture.

Howell fell apart from there. He could not get the ball in the fairway at the 12th and missed a 17-footer for par. One hole later, Howell went from the left rough to the right rough and recorded another bogey. He was still one ahead, but it was now in front of Goydos.

Goydos was 1 under after an eight-foot birdie putt at the 12th, but was three down. He holed an 11-foot par putt at 14 and thanks to Howell's miscues, was only one down.

Goydos ran home a 25-foot birdie putt at the 15th to move into a tie for the lead. At the 16th, he rolled in a 16-footer for birdie and found himself one ahead of Howell.

That lead was short-lived as Goydos' tee ball at the par-3 17th rolled into a back bunker. He blasted out to 12 feet, but missed and fell back into a tie for the lead.

Howell made a great par save at 16, then also found sand at 17 and, like Goydos, got up and down. Unfortunately, Howell could not duplicate Goydos' success at 18 and is left with another runner-up finish.

Reigning U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy had a nice Sunday. He fired a 6-under 64 and tied for eighth place with Robert Allenby, who shot a final-round 69, at 8-under-par 272.

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