EYE ON THE PRIZE
Retief Goosen's victory in Atlanta makes him a favorite in Augusta
A master of irony he is not, but even Retief Goosen got the joke
last week. Following the second round of the BellSouth Classic,
during which Goosen had made two eagles and shot 66 to surge to
within a stroke of the lead, he said with a chuckle, "It's
actually quite funny, but I am not playing well at all." Funnier
still is that he played even worse over the weekend yet marched
to a commanding victory over Jesper Parnevik and Phil Mickelson.
Last Saturday, Goosen hit only seven greens in regulation, but he
stitched together a 68 with a flawless wedge game and a
scandalously low 22 putts. On Sunday, Goosen started bogey,
double bogey and hit only eight fairways, yet he ground out a 70
and won by four strokes thanks to more clutch putting and an
exquisite, tide-turning chip-in for eagle on the par-5 4th hole
at the TPC at Sugarloaf, outside Atlanta. This was Goosen's
second victory in the U.S., following his surprise win in last
June's U.S. Open. Many American fans may be surprised to hear
that, in between, he has been the world's hottest (male) golfer,
winning five international titles, including a Woodsian romp at
the Johnnie Walker Classic, during which Goosen built a European
tour-record 13-stroke lead through three rounds. This 10-month
rampage has propelled Goosen, 33, from 44th to fourth in the
What makes his latest victory so intriguing is that the hard,
fast conditions at Sugarloaf were an excellent precursor to this
week's "annual spring putting contest," as Johnny Miller once
called the Masters. "I definitely think this is a good test for
[the Masters]," Goosen said. "You know, a lot of the sort of
bump-and-run shots and very quick, slopey greens."
In three previous appearances at Augusta, Goosen has had a
middling 40th-place finish and two missed cuts, including last
year's early departure when he was slowed by a pulled muscle in
his chest. Still, he has proved that he's not afraid to break
through in a big way--until the U.S. Open his best finish in the
U.S. had been 12th.
Goosen is a prototype of what we might quaintly call the
20th-century Masters champ--the Olazabals and the Crenshaws and
the O'Mearas, who bunted the ball around a benign, wide-open
course and took the tournament hostage with putters that may as
well have been pocket knives. The pumped-up new Augusta National
is widely believed to favor a long hitter like Mickelson, even as
he continues to become golf's version of Reggie Jackson, a
prolific slugger prone to embarrassing whiffs. Goosen is more
like Joe Morgan, a gritty scrapper who can beat you in many ways,
not the least being with his determination.
"I like it when it's tough out there, and you really have to
grind your way around," Goosen said on Sunday, and this wasn't
mere bluster. At one point during the third round of last year's
U.S. Open, Goosen missed six greens in seven holes and got up and
down every time. With each ensuing victory, that gaudy
performance looks less like a fluke and more like a game plan. In
an era obsessed with power, on the longest, hardest layout in
Masters history, Goosen's short game may deliver the perfect
Doug Tewell? Bobby Wadkins? The decline of the Legends of Golf is
symbolic of what ails the Senior tour. Once a celebration of the
men who made the game great, the Legends is now just another
event that belongs to the grinders.
Despite a bad start and two muffed bunker shots in the final
round, Retief Goosen's upbeat attitude carried him to victory
by Jane Frost
You have a choice when the going gets tough: You can
act like Captain Teflon and forge ahead with a positive
attitude, or you can think, Woe is me, and self-destruct. Retief
Goosen waltzed to a four-shot victory at the BellSouth Classic
because he chose the former. Goosen lost his third-round lead to
Phil Mickelson on Sunday by bogeying the 1st hole and
double-bogeying the 2nd, where he left a simple bunker shot in
the sand (above). He also needed two shots to escape a greenside
bunker at 13. However, in each instance Goosen avoided calamity
by staying in the moment and bouncing right back. He striped a
drive at the 3rd hole and made par, and then regained the lead
from Mickelson by chipping in for an eagle at the par-5 4th. At
13, a short par-4 on which he had nearly driven the green,
Goosen saved par by stiffing his second bunker shot.
MIND OVER MATTER Patty Berg made me aware of the importance of
training the mind as well as the body at the first LPGA Teaching
and Club Pro Championship, in 1983. At the practice area, Berg
called a bunch of us sweaty range rats over and asked, "How many
of you think golf is 95 percent physical?" Nobody raised her
hand. Then Berg asked, "How many think it's 95 percent mental?"
Everybody's hand shot up. Berg smiled coyly and said, "Then why
the heck are you out here beating balls?"
LOOSEY GOOSEN Goosen's mental approach is so bulletproof I think
he'll win another couple of majors in the years to come. Despite
bogeying 16 and 18 at the TPC at Sugarloaf to close his round on
Saturday, he only hit a handful of balls afterward. "I know how
to get myself around a course even when I'm not 100 percent with
the swing," he said. I love that kind of peace of mind. Goosen
knew that his swing mechanics were sound, but his timing was off,
so he wasn't silly enough to try to fix something that wasn't
broken with a marathon practice session. Also, he was putting so
well that he was confident he could overcome any challenges he
might encounter from tee to green.
CHILD'S PLAY It was painful watching Monday qualifier Zach
Johnson walk off the par-5 18th hole with a four-putt bogey
moments after he singed the cup with a 55-foot eagle try. A mere
birdie would've catapulted Johnson, a 26-year-old Hooters tour
regular playing in his second PGA Tour event, into eighth place
and earned him a spot in next week's Greater Greensboro Chrysler
Classic. But I think Johnson, who slipped to 17th, will be back
on Tour soon--as a regular member--because he has such a healthy
perspective. Instead of wallowing in the what-coulda-beens on
Sunday evening, he was positively cheerful. "I always thought I
could play out here, and now I know I can," Johnson said,
sounding very much like Retief Goosen.
Jane Frost is the director of instruction at Holly Ridge Golf
Club in Sandwich, Mass., and one of Golf Magazine's Top 100
The postshot routine is vital because it provides a positive
emotional foundation for the next swing. The routine's content
can be mental or physical. After a good shot, anchor the swing
in your mind with an upbeat action. Tiger Woods pumps his fist
(picture 1) or knocks knuckles with his caddie. You can also
contentedly stare at the target, as Retief Goosen does, or give
yourself a pep talk. ("Way to go, champ!") To purge the memory
of a bad shot, take two steps. First, find a way to release the
negative energy in an acceptable way. Woods often hits his club
against the turf (picture 2), but you can simply grunt or, like
one of my students, blow into a Ziploc bag, symbolizing the
expulsion of the undesirable outcome. The second step is to do
what I call reframe: Replace the memory of a flubbed shot by
replaying it in your mind until you can envision the outcome
that you had wanted.
by Sal Johnson
Playing his 12th tournament in the last 14 weeks, Jesper Parnevik
busted loose with a final-round 65 at the BellSouth to climb from
20th place to second.... How did Phil Mickelson blow his 36-hole
lead? By playing the par-5s in two over par on the weekend.... Se
Ri Pak held off Annika Sorenstam at the Office Depot Championship
for her 14th career victory. Sorenstam, who has had 10 straight
top 10 finishes, led the field in greens in regulation, but Pak
needed nine fewer putts (85).... With a one-stroke victory over
Bobby Wadkins at the Legends of Golf, Doug Tewell joined Tom Kite
and Hale Irwin as the Senior tour's only multiple winners this
season. Tewell missed only one fairway for the week and leads the
2002 driving accuracy stats at 87.6%, having missed the short
grass just 38 times in 306 tee shots.
Typical Los Angeles fans: On the eve of the Office Depot
Championship about two dozen LPGA players road-tripped to Dodger
Stadium for Amy Alcott Night, at which the honoree threw out the
ceremonial first pitch before a 7:10 game against the Giants.
(Alcott delivered a decent fastball on the outside corner.)
Unfortunately for the players, the shuttle bus provided by the
tournament departed from Chavez Ravine at 9 p.m., which meant
that they had to leave the game in the bottom of the fourth
Forget Magnolia Lane, the real portal to the Masters is Augusta
Regional Airport at Bush Field, where million-airs arrive in
their private aircraft. So many planes are expected to descend
on the area this week that the FAA will implement special
protocols to avoid midair gridlock. Before firing up the G-V, be
sure to check out the details at news.aopa.org.
Pat Croce, the manic former president of the Philadelphia 76ers,
has signed on as the chief spokesman and promoter for the PGA
Tour's Pennsylvania Classic. "I don't have any contacts in golf,
but give me a few names to call and I'll shake the trees," Croce
told (threatened?) The Philadelphia Inquirer.
A nonfactor to start this season, Se Ri Pak has finally rounded
into form, thanks, in part, to two important men in her life.
After five victories in 2001, Pak parted ways in the off-season
with her teacher, Tom Creavy, because he wanted a higher salary.
After contract negotiations led to a nice raise, Creavy reunited
with Pak the week of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She tied
for ninth, and last week won the Office Depot. More important,
her father, Jong Chul, has rallied after a siege of high blood
pressure. Amid exaggerated press reports that her father was
gravely ill, Se Ri spent a long off-season tending to him in
South Korea. Now he has responded to treatment, and Se Ri is on
the mend too.
by Gail Graham
SI's sexist pictorial from the Nabisco shows how little the
magazine cares about women's golf sports illustrated displayed
little respect for women and none at all for the LPGA in its
April 8 issue. At first glance it appeared that SI was going to
take a serious look at the first major of the year, the Kraft
Nabisco Championship, but following a thoughtful six-page story
about Annika Sorenstam's second consecutive title and her lucky
red shoes, SI went from reporting on sports to making a
spectacle of a gathering of gay women in Palm Springs, Calif.
What, exactly, was the point of this leering four-page
pictorial? If 30,000 United Auto Workers had been at the Houston
Open, would SI have reported on their parties and tried to
invent a relationship with the tournament? I don't think so. Yet
SI seems to be fascinated with the party scene in Palm Springs,
as this is the second time in five years that the magazine has
tried to correlate it with women's pro golf.
Yes, the LPGA has gay fans, but so, too, do the NBA, the NFL,
Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour. We are glad to have them
as fans. Believe it or not, there are also heterosexual males and
females who appreciate the skill and talent of our players, as
well as their personalities. We would love for SI to report on
that--the game and the personalities involved in it.
Unfortunately, SI never seems to take the LPGA seriously. Why has
it been almost 25 years since one of our players (Nancy Lopez in
1978) was featured on the cover? And why did Annika's historic 59
at last year's Standard Register Ping get only a short two-page
story in Golf Plus and a one-sentence blurb in the national
edition? It's about time for SI to get with the program and show
some respect for an association that has been successful for more
than 50 years. Save your sexist pictures of girls in bikinis for
the swimsuit issue.
Gail Graham, a tour pro for 13 years, is the president of the
VOTE AT GOLFONLINE.COM
Did the changes to Augusta National enhance or detract from the
LAST WEEK: Will Tiger Woods repeat as Masters champion?
--Based on 6,439 responses to our informal survey.
COLOR PHOTO: JAMIE SQUIREMagic wand Goosen overcame shaky ball striking with a deadly flat stick, leading the field with 101 putts.
THREE COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF NBC
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN MCCOY/LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS/AP (RED SHIRT)
COLOR PHOTO: JEFF TOPPING/REUTERS
COLOR PHOTO: JON SOOHOO/L.A. DODGERS 2002 (LEFT) Ball girl Amy Alcott Night began with the LPGA star throwing out the first pitch.
COLOR PHOTO: TODD BIGELOW/AURORA