Sunday, February 22, 2015


By Adam Schupa
PACIFIC PALISADES, California –– It is only fitting that on the eve of the Academy Awards, and one day after the release of the sequel to "Hot Tub Time Machine," Retief Goosen has Hollywood scriptwriters feverishly working on "Hot Tub Time Machine 3," where a once great champion rediscovers his nerve with the putter at Riviera Country Club more than five years after his last US PGA Tour title.
It was cute to say it was Throwback Thursday when Goosen, a 46-year-old South African, opened with 5-under 66 at Riviera, and a feel-good story when he rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-4 18th to claim the 36-hole lead. 

But it got serious when Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open champion, chipped in for birdie at the par-3 16th Saturday en route to a 2-under 69 for a 54-hole total of 8-under 205 and a two-stroke lead over Canada’s Graham DeLaet.
Goosen, who had back surgery in late 2012, grabbed his first 54-hole lead since 2005.
“Has it been 10 years?” Goosen said with more than a hint of disbelief.
Goosen was once the Ringo Starr of golf’s Big Five era, playing second fiddle to Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh. But Goosen won two U.S. Opens among seven Tour titles, wielding one of the most lethal putters. Before Jason Dufner became the reigning poster boy for flatliners, Goosen had ice running through his veins.
“You can just kind of look at him and see how cool and collected he is,” DeLaet said.
When he toured the front nine in 32 with birdies at Nos. 1, 6 and 8, Goosen climbed to 9 under and opened a three-stroke lead in the third round.
“The first nine was really putting,” Goosen said. “The back nine, it caught up with me a little bit.”
His misadventures began when he putted off the green at the 10th and was fortunate to make bogey. He bounced back with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 11th, before bogeying Nos. 12, 13 and 15.
The wheels appeared to be falling off when he missed the green to the right at the par-3 16th, his ball landing in a scruffy lie amid a sliver of grass just above a greenside bunker. 

Using a 62-degree wedge, Goosen lobbed a pitch that parachuted safely on the green and trickled in for birdie to stop the bleeding. The Ice Man even cracked a smile.
“It was one of those I felt I could get close,” he said. “It just came out perfect and just went in, perfect speed.”
Goosen’s fall from the Big Five began when his putter began behaving erratically. He took some loft off of it this week and said it helped him roll it better on Riviera’s tricky poa annua greens. 

More troubling was the chronic back pain that forced him to halt his 2012 season after the US PGA Championship and have surgery later that year. Goosen, who was once struck by lightning as a teenager, compared the surgery to getting a second life.
“My back’s feeling great. I have zero back pain,” he said. “Five years ago, the way my back was, I felt 46. And now I feel 36.”
When asked what he’d be doing now if the surgery, which replaced a disk that had disintegrated with a titanium plate, had been unsuccessful, he said he’d be “sitting on a beach with a glass of wine.”
“I wish I were 10 years younger,” Goosen added, “but you know, I feel like I can swing the club again. I just need to control my nerves a little bit.”
This week’s start is his 104th since his win at the 2009 Valspar Championship. With 14 players within four strokes of the lead – including the likes of Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and major winners Jim Furyk, Angel Cabrera and defending champion Bubba Watson – can Goosen close it out on Sunday for his eighth Tour title?
“I have the experience but it’s been, you know, quite a long time ago now, 14 and 11 years ago since I won a U.S. Open,” Goosen said..
Goosen knows he will probably need an Oscar-worthy performance on Sunday. And just how much would he savour victory again at this stage in his career mean to him?
“Oh, this would be an awesome win, yeah,” he said. “This will feel like a U.S. Open, a third U.S. Open for me winning this week.”
Sang-Moon Bae continued his success at Riviera Country Club on Saturday with a bogey-free, 5-under 66 to move to within three shots of leader  Goosen
Sergio Garcia carded a 3-under 68 that was "Seve-like"  to remain in contention'
Russell Henley is a man of many talents. Following the completion of the third round of the Northern Trust Open, Henley, winner of the 2014 Honda Classic, joined popular rock band O.A.R. on stage and played guitar at a free concert held at the driving range.
Henley took up the instrument in the eighth grade and likes to play as a source of relaxation. He’s self-taught and learned from watching friends play.
“I don’t know how to read music, but I know all the chords,” said Henley, who made the 36-hole cut on the number. “I wish I was way better.”
This won’t be Henley’s first time rocking out when a concert breaks out at a golf tournament. Henley joined Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish fame to perform Rucker’s hit “Wagon Wheel” at the McGladrey Classic’s Live Under the Oaks concert in October. On that occasion, Henley said he didn’t know what to expect.
“It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be,” he said. “The band is so good it really doesn’t matter that much. It’s just kind of cool to be on the stage with a guitar in your hands.”

Par 213 (3x71)

205 Retief Goosen 66 70 69
207 Graham De Laet 70 67 70
208 Sang-Moon Bae 71 71 66, Carlos Ortiz 67 73 68, Sergio Garcia 71 69 68, J B Holmes 70 69 69
208 Dustin Johnson 70 72 67, Jim Furyk 71 70 68, James Hahn 66 74 69, Vijay Singh 66 74 69, Jordan Spieth 6970 70, Angel Cabrera 70 68 71, Bubba Watson 70 68 70, Ryan Moore 69 68 72





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