Goosen puts back injury behind him

By Jason SobelFebruary 22, 2015, 1:38 am

LOS ANGELES – At its most elite level, golf is growing younger right before our eyes. The man who will chase the career grand slam in two months, Rory McIlroy, is just 25. Jason Day’s recent win vaulted him to fourth in the world at 27. Patrick Reed has a win this year at 24; so does Brooks Koepka. Jordan Spieth won twice late last year at 21. It’s almost enough to send seasoned veterans leaping into the nearest water hazard in hopes of finding a fountain of youth.

Retief Goosen, though, has always been a man of modest means. He isn’t greedy. He doesn’t pine for being an up-and-coming twenty-something once again.

“I wish I was 10 years younger,” the 46-year-old said with a wry smile.

That’s because he’s finally healthy – and so, too, is his game, as evidenced by scores of 66-70-69 that have given him a two-stroke advantage at the Northern Trust Open going into the final round.

Northern Trust Open: Articles, videos and photos

A two-time U.S. Open champion and seven-time PGA Tour winner, it wasn’t so long ago that Goosen had neither the health nor the game to contend at this level. A back injury suffered some five years ago continued to linger. Injections didn’t help. On Aug. 24, 2012, he underwent surgery in London during which a titanium disc was inserted in his back. It was four months before he could even swing a club again.

“When I went in for surgery,” he recalled, “I was talking to my wife that I physically can't play golf anymore, so if surgery is not a success, I'm still in the same boat. So I'm very happy with the way that's turned out. It's now been pretty much almost 2½ years since surgery. My back's feeling great. I have zero back pain.

“The surgery has given me a second life, and hopefully I can continue to play on Tour for a few years to come.”

Call it his own version of the fountain of youth.

To further the metaphor, rather than make one big splash, he’s been mostly treading water until now.

“I feel great,” he beamed. “I mean, five years ago, the way my back was, I felt 46. And now I feel 36. I must say, my body's feeling good. I really can't complain what condition my body is in.”

He can’t complain about his performance so far this week, either.

The man famous for his major triumphs at Southern Hills and Shinnecock Hills is setting the pace on a course which hasn’t held a U.S. Open in 67 years, but feels like it is this week.

Goosen can see the parallels; he can understand how the experience of those long-ago wins could translate into success this week. But he also warns that we should remain wary of connecting the dots too linearly.

“Patience is a big, big key on a course like this,” he explained. “Yeah, I have the experience, but it's been quite a long time ago now, 14 and 11 years ago since I won a U.S. Open.”

That patience paid off on the back nine Saturday, in the form of a pair of big-time bounce-back birdies. After his first bogey of the day on the devilish 10th hole, he reached the par-5 11th in two and two-putted for birdie.

After bogeying three of his next four, Goosen found himself with an awkward stance just off the par-3 16th green, but stabbed at the ball, semi-buried in the rough, and popped it out to perfection, watching it disappear into the bottom of the cup.

“I felt I could get close,” he said. “I knew I couldn't leave it short unless I hit it in the rough in front of me. It just came out perfect and just went in perfect speed.”

The famously stoic South African barely cracked a smile, but that demeanor might help to explain his advantage so far this week.

Following the round, playing partner Graham DeLaet – who at two shots back will pair with him again on Sunday – marveled at Goosen’s ability to maintain such a calm disposition.

“He's a great guy to play with, especially under pressure circumstances, because you can just kind of look at him and see how cool and collected he is, with that just kind of silky smooth bomb that he hits off the tee,” said DeLaet. “He's a fun guy to watch play. I'm a little bit more of an emotional player than that, but I've learned over the years to not get too amped up or too down low. I think playing with him is a good way to just keep the calm and just go about business.”

Whatever happens on Sunday, Goosen will once again just go about his business.

It’s a business that, not so long ago, he thought he might be done with, the back injury keeping him from competing at a high level ever again.

When asked what he’d be doing if the surgery hadn’t been successful, Goosen pondered for a few seconds and smiled.

“I’d be sitting on a beach with a glass of wine,” he surmised.

By the end of Sunday’s final round, he could be lifting that glass to an unlikely victory toast instead.

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More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 9:14 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.

There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.

The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.

It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 am

Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.