Augusta, Ga. | If anyone could have been expected to stand the heat of Tiger Woods’ kitchen, it was Retief Goosen.
As the only player to open with three rounds in the 60s, Goosen found himself in the final group Sunday and tied with the defending Masters champion at 11 under par. Goosen arguably is the hottest player on the planet, having won six times on three different tours since his U.S. Open victory last June.
He’s also considered one of the coolest, at least in demeanor.
“Retief is comfortable out there,” Vijay Singh said of the unflappable South African after Round 3. “I don’t think his heart rate ever gets over 100.”
But something went haywire in the final round April 14. Goosen bogeyed the first, fourth and eighth holes, falling five behind Woods. He acknowledged that he imploded, three-putting three times during that stretch.
“I hit my irons really terrible today and really gave myself no chances for any birdies,” he said. “I was pulling everything. I couldn’t get myself on the inside, and I pulled everything long left, which is not good. I pulled my tee shot on the first. I pulled it on the third or fourth, and so on down the line on every hole.”
Nevertheless, Goosen hit more fairways (11) than in any of his previous three rounds. And his 13 of 18 greens hit equaled his 72.2 percentage for 72 holes. The difference was 34 putts Sunday compared with 27 apiece on Friday and Saturday, and 26 on Thursday.
“I was always putting from 40 feet,” he said. “It’s not easy on these greens to make any putts from that distance.”
Goosen still managed to birdie the 15th and 16th holes, and held off Phil Mickelson for second place. Goosen said no one had a chance to catch Woods after Woods chipped in for birdie at No. 6 to go 13-under.
“From there on, no one really was putting any pressure on him,” Goosen said. “I think he was just cruising in. He wasn’t taking any chances out there. He was just hitting to the safe sides on every hole.”
As for himself, Goosen said: “I need to sort out my iron play a little bit. I’m going back to Europe now for seven weeks and I’ll be back the week before the U.S. Open at Westchester (at the Buick Classic).”
Goosen’s ascension on the world golf scene has been attributed in large part to the work he’s done with mental coach Jos Vanstiphout, who put his pupil’s runner-up finish in perspective.
“Nobody died,” said Vanstiphout. “He’s good; he’s not God. He had a weak day, that’s all. He’s only human.”
MC for Double D
David Duval, who was 31 under par and had finished no worse than sixth in his last four Masters starts – including runner-up finishes in 1998 and 2001 – missed the cut after shooting a pair of 74s. Asked if he were more disappointed or more frustrated by his finish, Duval responded, “More of the latter.”
Added Duval, “It’s just one of those deals that didn’t work out for me.”
Duval had five holes to play Saturday morning to complete his second round, and started by three-putting from 25 feet for bogey at the par-5 13th. He also bogeyed Nos. 14 and 17, and missed the cut (which fell at 3-over 147) by a shot.
Duval, who in 1999 had four victories before the Masters even arrived, has yet to post a top-10 finish in nine PGA Tour starts this season.
The top 16 finishers and ties automatically earned spots in next year’s Masters.
Perhaps the most surprising in that group was 21-year-old Australian Adam Scott, the only one in the final 16 who was playing for the first time at Augusta, although you never would have known it.
Scott turned in four rounds of par or better, finishing at 3-under 285 to tie for ninth place and earn the right to come back in 2003. He had nothing worse than a bogey, ending up with 14 birdies and 11 bogeys.
Chris DiMarco, meanwhile, tied for 12th at 2 under for his second top-16 finish in two Masters appearances. He tied for 10th in 2001.
After growing progressively more frustrated on the greens – taking 25, 30 and 32 putts through three rounds – the eccentric Jesper Parnevik carried two putters in his bag Sunday.
When he missed a 5-footer for birdie on the first hole, Parnevik went to his second putter on No. 2. One problem: To make room for the extra flat stick, he removed his 3-iron, which he said he needed on three occasions on the second nine. He finished with 34 putts en route to a closing 72 and a tie for 29th.
Rules committees from the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews gathered at Spring Island, S.C., before the Masters. In addition, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem met with USGA and R&A rules officials at Augusta.
Such meetings routinely are held at major championships and generally do not provide a suitable atmosphere for intense discussion. USGA senior technical director Dick Rugge, the primary spokesman for the USGA on technical issues, did not even attend the Masters.
Howell in hindsight
Despite being tugged in dozens of directions leading up to and during his first Masters appearance, hometown hero Charles Howell III had only one regret.
Asked if, in hindsight, he’d do anything different, Howell replied: “Yeah, I’d play better. But really, considering everything, I thought I did a good job with it. It is a fine line to walk. Because I love the media, interviews and everything. But it’s tough, because I don’t like saying no and I still have to get my work done out here.”
The Augustan was besieged by local well-wishers and wrote a daily diary for the Augusta Chronicle. Howell, a single-minded golf junkie, reflected on his social life while going to high school in Augusta.
“I had 14 good friends in school, and they all fit in my golf bag,” he said. “For a while, I had a girlfriend and her name was Big Bertha.”
Howell shot 74-73-71-73 for 3-over-par 291 and a tie for 29th.
“Now it’s out of the way, and I can move forward from here,” Howell said. “Next time it will probably be a little calmer, and things I learned will pay off.”
Greg Norman was matter of fact regarding the prospects of his return to the Masters anytime soon.
“Not being a prophet, I can’t answer that question,” he said. “Obviously I’ve got to keep playing, and if I get in, I get in.”
Norman was in the field this year on a special invitation for international players, and had hoped to earn his way back by finishing in the top 16. He tied for 36th, shooting 71-76-72-75 for a 6-over-par 294.
Norman, who does not play enough in the United States to qualify for PGA Tour membership, said he’ll probably play more PGA European Tour events this season. He entered six in 2001 and tied for sixth in his only European Tour appearance so far this season, the Heineken Classic in Australia.
“I’ve about exhausted all my possibilities over here, outside of the major championships,” Norman said. “If I want to play, I’m going to have to find somewhere to play.”
Was he nostalgic during the closing holes in what might be his last appearance at Augusta National?
“Not really. I never really thought about it in that regard,” he said. “It was a long, hard, slogging wet week. It was just a matter of trying to get in and figure out what I was doing with my putting. I didn’t really have time to think about all that other stuff.”
Hootie and the ball wish
In his “State of the Masters” address, Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson was noncommittal about the future of a so-called “Masters ball” that doesn’t fly as far as those used by today’s professionals.
“We are concerned how far the golf ball goes” for all of golf, not just the Masters, Johnson said. “People are glad we heightened the debate on the game and where it’s going.”
Stopping the sprawl? Johnson acknowledged that the club has acquired land beyond the adjacent Berckman’s Road. The official story is that The National is making room for potential growth, but another reason the club (and some of its members, privately) gradually is buying up parcels of adjoining land is to limit, if not undo, the commercial sprawl on Washington Road.
Welcome mat? Johnson took some heat during the week because Augusta National has no female members. He defended policy with no apologies.
“We have no exclusionary policies as far as our membership is concerned,” Johnson said. When asked what that meant, he clarified: “That means we have no exclusionary policies.”
Three-time Masters champion Sam Snead, 89, pushed his drive to the right and struck a spectator in the face when teeing off on No. 1 in his customary role as honorary starter. The man, whose name was withheld by tournament officials, was treated at a first-aid station and released.
Snead, looking frail, is recovering from a mini-stroke, said his son, Jack. He appeared happy just to get the drive airborne.
“I got it off the ground,” the Slammer said.
If you count national amateur championships, Woods moved into sole possession of fourth place on the list of major winners. Jack Nicklaus has 20, Bobby Jones 13, Walter Hagen 11 and Woods 10. . . . Five birdies by Thomas Björn on Nos. 1-5 in the second round set a record for consecutive birdies to start a round. The previous record was four by Ken Venturi (first round, 1956) and Paul Harney (final round, 1968). . . . Tom Watson made the 36-hole cut despite making a quadruple-bogey 7 on the 12th hole in the second round. He hit two balls into Rae’s Creek. “Have you seen the movie ‘Alien’?” Watson said. “That’s where the thing comes out of your chest. Well, that’s what it feels like on No. 12 when that happens.” Watson, 52, tied for 40th. . . . Fifteen groups played the toughened first hole Thursday before Mark O’Meara recorded the first birdie there. . . . Because of the second-round rain suspension, players began the third round off the first and 10th tees. The last time that happened in a Masters was 1982. . . . The Masters did not raise its purse from 2001. The $5.6 million was the same as last year, as was Woods’ first prize of $1.08 million. . . . Woods has 10 consecutive sub-par rounds in the Masters, a tournament record. . . . Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples, who arrived in Augusta with the two longest streaks of consecutive cuts made, extended them to 19 and 18, respectively. The record is 23, held by Gary Player. . . . Brad Faxon made only the second eagle-2 at the 490-yard 11th hole in Masters history, holing a 6-iron from 193 yards in Round 3. The only other player to make 2 at No. 11 is Jerry Barber, in 1962.