retief-goosen

The Goose is loose again.

Reteif Goosen held off Charles Howell III, Brett Quigley, Steve Stricker and Methuselah Tom Lehman to win the Transitions Championship by a stroke.  Yipee!!!

After a disasterous last few years, the Goose finally got going again on a track he’s won at before, but not after a few scares.  Was this shades of when he was a top 5 player or a sign of a full-fledged comeback?  After the jump, full thoughts on Sunday’s action.

Winners:

Charles Howell III: A nice week for CHIII who’s beginning to look like the player everyone thought he’d be.  He’s a fantastic ballstriker who’s finally breaking the Leadbetter curse and actually beginning to play golf instead of just have a picture perfect swing.  Nice touch around the greens and a good showing with the putter was more encouraging than the poor shots that plagued his round…he’s a work in progress, but he’s coming along nicely.

Steve Stricker: Yet another showing on a leaderboard for one of the game’s finest putters.  A typical heating-up with the flatstick fueled his charge on Sunday, and bodes well for his confidence after final-hole meltdowns earlier this year at the Hope and at Riviera.

Charlie Wi: I’ve said I’m not a fan of the stack and tilt crowd, but Wi made a nice jump Sunday thanks to his short game.  Not much else I can say…

Tom Lehman: He’s ancient.  I’m proud of grandpa!

Loser:

Trevor Immelman: He’s got Hogan’s swing, a Tron-inspired wardrobe and…mounting evidence that he’s a fluky major winner.

If you looked at a snapshot of his swing, you’d think he’d be an all-timer, I mean, it’s PERFECT.  But why I’m I so completely underwhelmed by his game and attitude that I can’t enjoy watching him play, especially when he’s one of the few truly marquee names on the leaderboard?

I really can’t explain it, but if Trevor doesn’t start playing well again, what is he going to have going for him?  Fluky major winners don’t get favorable treatment by either the media or the fans, just ask Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel and Todd Hamilton.  Even Ben Curtis, despite his underrated resume, is looked at with the, “well, he won a major and not much else” qualifier.  The rest of your career is looked at in a much more intensive light, and based on his post-Masters performance, Immelman might want to actually start playing golf instead of bitching at Nike about exposure.

The Goose:

Nice little paycheck, but I think the Goose is cooked.

While he was once a premeir player, he’s not anymore.  The thing that’s marked Goosen’s recent play has been questionable shots that really hurt.  He was able to piece together a good tournament thanks to a veteran shortgame, but this wasn’t exactly Phil coming back from the dead, this was a nice win at a tough tournament, but his competition wasn’t exactly frightening, and even then, it was never a sure thing.

If it sounds like I’m being harsh, it’s because I am.  2-time US Open winners, and guys who used to be in the top 5, unfortunately, get that treatment.  A win at a ho-hum PGA event doesn’t ecuse the fact that he was one of the worst playing pros on tour the last year and a half, injuries and Lasik or not.  It’s for this reason, I don’t think he’s going to ever be a great player again, he just looks Els-ish right now, I mean, doesn’t this reek of Els’ win at the Honda last year?

By no means does this diminish the Goose’s win, this week, but it has to be taken into context.  While I was never a huge Reteif fan, it’s still nice to see him get out there and win again, and it was a fun weekend.

The Course:

Copperhead is a great venue.  The course played pretty difficult, and any mistake was penalized by long, doughy rough and super-slick greens.  Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is a grinder’s only tournament, because, if this course could be played in conditions like this, it’d be a prime candidate for a PGA Championship.

It’s unfortunate that Copperhead is in Tampa, because if it hosted an American-based major, it’d be brutal.  Florida in the summer is like walking around in a sauna, and the scorching heat would take away some of the conditioning that really gave the course it’s teeth.

But it’s courses like this that make me long for a mandatory rule that every pro must visit each stop once every few years or so…this course, in these conditions deserve more than Reteif, CHIII and Steve Stricker.  The best players in the world should tee it up at Copperhead as it’s not just some one-trick pony and is genuinely great.  This is the kind of course that Jack Nicklaus wishes he could design, and it’s truly one of the cooler courses the PGA stops at.  Here’s to a better representation of the world’s best next year.

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