Goosen Laps Australian Field
In a performance reminiscent of Tiger Woods' annihilation of the field at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Goosen seemed to toy with a difficult course that sent many of his challengers sliding down the leaderboard.
'I'll give myself 10 out of 10. I played great,' said Goosen, who himself won the U.S. Open in 2001. 'I've shot 62 a couple of times at Loch Lomond but I would say in the conditions, and the way the course is set up, this is probably the best round I've played.'
The 32-year-old South African tallied nine birdies in a bogey-free round, including an impressive closing birdie after a patience-testing delay at the par-4 18th. He finished with a three-day total of 15-under-par 201.
Ernie Els (71) and Sergio Garcia (72) each bogeyed the last to finish the day tied for second place at 2-under 214.
Englishmen Anthony Wall (69) and Simon Dyson (70) were together at 1-under-par, while Australia's Wayne Riley (69) finished alongside Pierre Fulke (74) of Sweden at even-par 216.
Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee and New Zealand's Steve Alker, just one and two shots behind Goosen coming into the day, respectively, both struggled to find fairways and greens in round three. Jaidee ballooned to a 6-over 78 and Alker carded a 77 to join a seven-way logjam at 1-over-par.
Goosen notched four birdies on the front nine, the last with a 15-foot putt at the par-3 eighth to reach double digits under par. He took a seven-shot advantage into the back nine, then blew the tournament wide open with four birdies in the span of five holes from the 11th to the 15th.
The closest Goosen came to posting a bogey was at the par-3 17th. But even after his tee shot landed short of the green and his chip stopped seven feet short of the hole, Goosen managed to calmly roll in the putt to keep his card clean of mistakes.
The difficult conditions resulted in slow play, and Goosen had to wait at least 20 minutes to tee off at the 459-yard 18th, the hardest hole on the course. After waiting some more in the fairway, Goosen roped a 2-iron from 225 yards to 15 feet then sank the putt to complete the record round.
'I'm seeing the shots so well out there and obviously I'm reading the greens great,' Goosen said. 'I've been hitting the ball well for the last three weeks and it was only the putting which was holding me back.'
Goosen's putting has improved each day; he needed 32 putts during his first-round 70, 26 during Friday's 68 and only 25 on Saturday.
Although Goosen's 63 matched the score set by Gary Player at Lake Karrinyup in 1974, the course has been lengthened by some 300 yards since then. The previous course record on the extended layout was 65, shot most recently by Alker in round two.
The 13-shot lead produced by Goosen established a new European Tour record for largest leading margin after 54 holes, shattering the old mark of 10 strokes held by Tony Jacklin (1974 Scandinavian Enterprise Open), Ken Brown (1984 Glasgow Open) and Woods (2000 U.S. Open).
Goosen has a chance to break the European Tour and U.S. PGA Tour record for winning margin, which Woods set at 15 strokes at Pebble Beach.
Goosen, a four-time European Tour winner at this point a year ago, has been one of the world's hottest golfers since his U.S. Open victory in an 18-hole playoff at Southern Hills last June. He built on his first major title by winning the Scottish Open a month later.
After a disappointing second-place showing at the Trophe Lancme, where he was caught from behind in the final-round by Garcia, Goosen closed the season with five straight top-10 finishes, including his third triumph of 2001 at the Open de Madrid.
He ended the season with 2,862,806 euro to finish No. 1 on the Order of Merit.
So far, so good for Goosen in 2002. During the European Tour's two-event swing through his home country, Goosen tied for fifth at the South African Open and tied for second at the Dunhill Championship.
Save for a collapse of titanic proportions Sunday, Goosen will earn his eighth career victory (apart from his seven South African titles) and be well on his way to another big year.
Full-field scores from the Johnnie Walker Classic
Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.
Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.
But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.
“It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”
Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.
“It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”
After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.
In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.
No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.
Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.
“I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”
And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.
Let it go.
Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.
“I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”
It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.
During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.
Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.
“It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.
McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.
It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.
“I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”
The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.
Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.
The only thing left to do?
Let it go.
Z. Johnson may have to pay for the jet home
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Zach Johnson will have some bragging rights when he gets back to the ultimate golf frat house on Friday after a second-round 67 moved him into the lead at The Open.
Johnson is rooming with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler this week at Carnoustie. It’s a tradition that began two years ago at Royal Troon.
Kisner joked on Thursday after he took the first-round lead that the perks for the house/tournament front-runner were limited: “I probably get to eat first,” he said.
There is, however, one running wager.
“Two years ago we, I don't know if you call it bet, but agreement that, if you win, you get the jet and you buy it, so we go home,” said Johnson, who added that because of varying travel arrangements, the wager might not be needed this year. “I didn't pay last year. Somebody else did.”
Spieth won last year’s championship at Royal Birkdale.
Despite the expense, Johnson said he didn’t know how much it costs to charter a private flight back to the United States, but it’s a good problem to have.
“I’d be happy to fork it over,” he smiled.
Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:
Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)
Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)
Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.
1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.