Goosen has last laugh after opening gaffe
Saturday 11 July 2009
Retief Goosen is not in the habit of reducing galleries to giggling fits, but when he topped his first shot of the morning and it proceeded to trundle off the tee-box and hop up the fairway like an embarrassed duck the muffles barely concealed the laughter. But if ever the first act was unfaithful to the conclusion, it was this drive.
The South African proceeded to middle every drive, flush every iron, radar every putt. In fact, after a 63 for an 11-under total the only thing being topped was this Barclays Scottish Open leaderboard. One of the principal cruelties with golf is they only remember the hysterical shots – and that even applied to his partners. Despite Goosen recovering to make a par, Geoff Ogilvy and Oliver Wilson continued to see the funny side.
"They kept quiet but I'm sure they were laughing," said Goosen who explained how in trying to hit a low three-wood it ended up travelling a full 180 yards. "I did joke with them a few holes later when I hit a good one, 'I had a much better lie on that tee'."
By then Goosen was off and marching, firing seven birdies, an eagle and just the solitary bogey. At one stage he had the course record of 62 in his sights – held by one Retief Goosen. "Yeah, I've actually shot 62 around here twice, although once was with preferred lies. You could say I like it here. I'm not the straightest hitter and this course is fairly generous off the tee."
In contrast, Turnberry is fairly miserly off the tee, a fact that plainly has Goosen worried. "I hear the rough is very deep," said Goosen, who with five top 10s in the last 10 Opens has a fine record in the British major. "By the sounds of it, it's probably going to be a US Open and not an Open. Hopefully they might cut the rough a little bit."
As hopes go, that is in the "you are dreaming" variety and Goosen is better advised to concentrate his positive energies on this challenge. Since being a member of the so-called "Big Five" a few years go, the double major-winner has fallen to 25 in the world rankings. But Goosen has made something of a resurgence since passing his 40th earlier in the year and is ready to repeat his Scottish Open success of 2001. "My putting is not as consistent as it was in those days but they all went in today," he said
Another former world No 3, Adam Scott, remains in close pursuit, two behind on nine-under after a 67, while last week's winner Martin Kaymer, makes it a high-quality scoreboard on eight-under. There are some lively British contenders a little further down the standings, not least Ross Fisher on six-under after a 67.
Alas, Colin Montgomerie did not feel in contention, despite finishing with four birdies in his last four holes. On level par after a courageous 69, the big Scot was flirting with the cut mark. "I'm not playing very well at all," he said. "OK, I birdied the last four, but you should do. It's not difficult out there at all but I made it difficult. I played awful yesterday and not much better today."
What made it all the more miserable for the 46-year-old was that he believed he had turned around a year-long hell in which he has failed to record a single top 10.
"The game was solid last week in France but it's just gone back to where it's been in the last 12 months or so," said Monty. "When am I going to turn up at Turnberry? I'll turn up on Thursday and just give it a rock. That might be the answer."
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