2005 Masters: Goosen makes case for Big 5; Els a nonfactor
Augusta, Ga. | A few weeks ago Tiger Woods bristled at the notion of a Big Four in golf. It wasn’t that the game lacked a collection of titans that the rank-and-file could target as much as it was missing a member.
For Woods, and the other members of the Big Four, no list of heavyweights is complete without Retief Goosen. On April 10 at Augusta National – while the world was fixated on Woods’ quest for a fourth green jacket, and Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson settled their spike spat mano-a-mano style with a final-round pairing – Goosen posted the best closing card (67) of the Big Five and vaulted into a tie for third at 5 under.
Other than Woods, Goosen fared better than any other member of pro golf’s full house at the year’s first major.
“I played 21⁄2, 3 rounds really solid,” said Goosen, who negotiated his final 36 holes in 7 under after opening with rounds of 71-75. “It was a difficult week but I was glad to finish the way I did.”
Ernie Els, the final member of the Big Five, was not as pleased with his finish. The Big Easy failed to break par on the front nine for the second consecutive round on his way to a closing 78 and posted his worst finish (47th) at Augusta National since he missed the cut in 1995.
“I never got it in a rhythm, and never was really on top of my game,” Els said after Round 2. “If you’re on your game and playing well, it’s very playable this week. But I’ve really been struggling with my distance control this week.”
Singh closed a contentious week with an uninspired 72. Over 72 holes, Singh ranked last in putting among the players who made the cut with a 1.792 average.
“I just couldn’t get the feel of the greens,” said Singh, who practiced putting for an hour after his third round. “It just got worse.”
Singh and Woods also continued their Official World Golf Ranking bout, with Woods overtaking Singh atop the ranking for the second time this season. Woods remained No. 1 in the Golfweek/ Sagarin Performance Index.
Despite his closing-round 74, his highest round at Augusta National since a third-round 76 in 2000, Mickelson was able to maintain his position atop the PGA Tour money list with $3.8 million.
What Lefty wasn’t able to do was find an answer for his wayward iron game. He tied for 21st in greens in regulation, hitting only 46 of 72 undulating putting surfaces (63.89 percent).
Despite tying for fifth in putting with 113 (1.569 average), Mickelson said: “I just struggled getting the ball in the hole on the greens. I’ve putted them well in the past. I thought I was putting them well this week but it seems like I was just a couple inches off.”
Even with their struggles, however, the Big Five remain in control on the PGA Tour, having won seven of the year’s 15 events.