Retief Goosen started well at TPC Southwind on Thursday as he shot an opening three-under-par 67 to sit two shots behind first-round leaders Seung-Yul Noh, Tom Hoge and Shawn Stefani.
‘After three weeks’ layoff, the swing felt a little bit rusty coming in,’ Goosen said. ‘I’m feeling a bit stiff so very happy with the start. This golf course I like and, you know, today I kept it in play and I made a few good par saves. I was a little bit out of position on a couple of holes, but otherwise the course is as good as I’ve seen it out here and the rough is really tricky and the greens are running — they’re getting quicker and quicker. The course is going to play tougher as we go on. I was pretty consistent, one bogey and four birdies.’
His three-ball, which included Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell, teed off at the 10th. Goosen rolled in four straight pars before his round gained momentum at the par-three 14th, where he hit a tee shot to within 17 feet and sank the long putt for birdie. He added a further gain at the par-five 16th to make the turn at two-under-par.
The 47-year-old’s second nine started with two pars before a birdie at the par-five third. The two-time SA Open champion would drop a shot at the fifth (his 14th hole of the day), but recovered with a birdie at the par-three eighth.
Goosen is putting well this season and it’s unsurprising that he holed a few long ones at TPC Southwind. His strength is three-putt avoidance, where he ranks first on tour. He also holds the record for the longest putt holed on tour this season, an 80 foot monster at the Honda Classic.
‘Goose’ will hope that with the hot flat stick, he can contend come the weekend and be in good shape at Oakmont for the US Open next week. He’s finished in the top-15 in his last two outings, at the Wells Fargo Championship and Players Championship, so his form is good.
Ernie Els and Tyrone van Aswegen both opened with even-par 70s, while Thomas Aiken limped to a two-over-par 72 and will need to shoot low on Friday to make the weekend.