Notes Goosen Getting Overlooked

By Associated PressJanuary 4, 2005, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Hawaii -- The 2005 season on the PGA Tour begins with much focus on the 'Big Four,' which sets up an interesting debate.

Who's the fourth?

Most everyone would agree that Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els are the three best players in golf. Masters champion Phil Mickelson seems like a good candidate to fill out the foursome, but that would be ignoring Retief Goosen.

That happens frequently to the quiet South African.

Goosen has won each of the last four years on the PGA Tour, including two U.S. Open titles. He has risen to No. 4 in the world ranking, narrowly ahead of Mickelson to start the year.

'I think looking at a guy like Retief is like a stranger looking at Manhattan -- you don't realize how tall the buildings are until you go there,' Joey Sindelar said. 'Retief is a long hitter with a beautiful, fabulous, slow swing, and nobody even talks about him.'

That's OK with Goosen.

He heard all the cheers for Mickelson when he was beating him at Shinnecock Hills, just like he did at East Lake when he ended the year with a rare comeback against Woods in the Tour Championship.

'I don't let things like that upset me,' Goosen said. 'People have their opinions, and maybe that's the way it is. Phil has won quite a few tournaments. I think I've shown I can make a few putts when I need them.'

Goosen was the first to admit he wasn't in the same league with Singh, Woods and Els after winning the Tour Championship, saying he needed a few more years of winning big tournaments.

'They've been on tour here a little bit longer than me and people know them a little bit better, so I think a couple more years of good play, it might be a different story,' he said.

Goosen doesn't draw much attention to himself, but he does not go unnoticed by his peers.

'Very, very underrated,' Woods said.

'He just goes around the world and does his job,' David Toms said. 'He's not in anyone's face. They don't put him on TV. And maybe he likes it that way. But all the players know how good he is.'

Asked about the 'Big Four,' Goosen smiled and came up with a solution.

'Maybe it should be the Big Five,' he said.

Whatever the case, it will be a long time before all of them are together.

Mickelson is not playing the winners-only Mercedes Championships. Goosen won't be at Torrey Pines. Els is skipping the Match Play Championship. The best bet to see them in the same tournament probably will be The Players Championship.

By then, golf's elite group could be even larger -- or smaller.

CADDIE CHANGE:
Vijay Singh will start the new season without the caddie he has had since June 2003.

Singh and Dave Renwick had a testy relationship toward the end of the Fijian's record-setting season, and it ended in late November at the Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii.

At least for now.

Renwick is in Scotland, taking a much-needed break from 18 months with the hard-working, and at times hard-nosed Singh.

'I'm not retired,' Renwick said from his home near Edinburgh. 'I spoke to Vijay theother day and said I would call him the first week in March. If I don't come back with Vijay, I'll look for someone else.'

Singh will use his trainer, Joey Diovisalvi, at the Mercedes Championships, and then Paul Tesori at the Sony Open and beyond. Tesori, who had been working for Jerry Kelly, was Singh's caddie until the middle of 2003.

Renwick can enjoy the fruits of his labor. Singh won more than $11 million worldwide last year, and assuming Renwick got the standard 10 percent, the caddie would have earned enough to finish in the top 70 on the PGA Tour money list.

'I'm just going to hang out at home, spend time with the wife and family, not do too much,' Renwick said. 'I'll be ready to get back to work.'

JOEY'S HEARTACHE:
Joey Sindelar is thrilled to be on Maui after winning for the first time in 14 years, although he remains wistful about another piece of paradise: Augusta National.

Sindelar thought he would get into the Masters by finishing in the top 40 on the money list. But in the final event of the year, Jesper Parnevik made an 18-foot birdie on the 18th hole, and Tommy Armour III missed a 3-footer for par. That combination resulted in a $100,000 swing that knocked Sindelar out of the top 40.

'When I missed the cut myself (at Tampa) ... that was my chance,' Sindelar said. 'On Sunday, all my stat friends were calling me saying, 'This could work.' Someone from the tour actually called. We had tears going, that's how happy we were. Then Jesper had to show up, that dirty dog.'

Sindelar doesn't feel sorry for himself.

'It's the Jim Colbert answer,' he said. 'Whenever guys were griping at a player meeting ... he'd stand up in a way only Jim Colbert could and say, 'Play better.' And that's still the answer.'

STAT OF THE WEEK:
Retief Goosen is playing in the Mercedes Championships for the fourth consecutive year, the longest active streak among the 31 players at Kapalua.

FINAL WORD:
'I didn't like golf as much as I thought I did.'
-- British Open champion Todd Hamilton, on what he took out of a busy silly season when he played in India, Japan, Hawaii, South Africa and California.
 
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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”