Goosen shoots 64 at Pebble to take 2-shot lead
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) -Retief Goosen is sporting a new look at a tournament he has never played. After an 8-under 64 in the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he's hopeful of seeing some old results.
Goosen hit a 3-iron to 8 feet for an eagle on the second hole at Pebble Beach, then picked up even more momentum by holing a 70-foot chip on the par-3 fifth green for birdie.
With short birdies on two of the last four holes, he was at 12-under 132 and had a two-shot lead over Dustin Johnson.
Goosen is wearing prescription sunglasses for the first time in his career, and the belly putter he tried out last week in San Diego is starting to take hold. Now if he can only get the results that made him part of the ``Big Four'' in golf as recently as four years ago.
``I'd like to turn my game around and play better,'' said Goosen, who has fallen to No. 42 in the world and not won on the PGA Tour since the now-defunct International in Colorado four years ago.
Johnson built an early lead playing Spyglass Hill, with four birdies on his first six holes to reach 11 under. But he pulled his tee shot into the trees on the 325-yard 17th, hit a tree trying to chip out and took double bogey. He had to settle for a 69, leaving him at 10-under 134 as he heads to Poppy Hills and its five par 5s on Saturday.
Mike Weir of Canada and Mark Calcavecchia each had a 69 at Pebble Beach and were among those at 8-under 136. Calcavecchia is playing for the first time in 2004, a strange decision that seems to be paying off.
``My theory was the weather was dead perfect at the Hope and Phoenix and I missed the cut in both of them,'' he said. ``So I thought I would come up here and freeze my butt off - cold, wind and rain - and see how I did. It seems to be working out.''
The highest-ranked players continue to occupy the bottom part of the leaderboard.
British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington had a 73 at Pebble Beach as the breeze strengthened but the skies remained surprisingly clear, leaving him at 3-over 147 and in serious jeopardy of missing the cut. Also at 3 over was Vijay Singh, who had a 75 at Pebble Beach.
Phil Mickelson, a two-time champion at Pebble Beach who is off to a slow start this year, got up-and-down from a greenside bunker on his final hole at Poppy Hills for a 71, leaving him 11 shots out of the lead.
Goosen reached as high as No. 3 in the world in 2006, and had a share of the lead during the final round of the 2007 Masters. But it has been a steady spiral downward since then, mainly because of his putting.
Before beginning a four-week swing in California and Arizona, he went to the belly putter.
``The last couple of years, I've just putted bad,'' Goosen said. ``When I had a week off back in London, I was just fooling around in the garage there for putters and tried a few long putters. And then I thought I would sort of give it a try. It can't get any worse, so I might as well try it. If you can get some sort of confidence going again, just seeing yourself making some putts, it helps.''
Goosen one-putted six consecutive greens on the back nine to surge into the lead.
``He's been making everything he looks at,'' said Craig Jamison, president and CEO of the San Jose Sharks, said behind the 17th green as he watched the star member of his foursome. That birdie putt touched the edge of the cup, a rare miss.
The South African polished off his 64 with a wedge into 3 feet, a putt and the typical reaction of golf's coolest customer.
Goosen celebrated his 40th birthday last week, if that's how it is to be described. It was a quiet dinner with his coach and caddie, and while he jokingly said it was a depressing occasion, he knows Singh played his best after turning 40.
And that's where Goosen is trying to get.
He made an effort to get fit last year after not liking what he saw in the mirror, and figures he has lost 16 pounds and gained immeasurable strength. And then there are the glasses, a light lens shade from bygone eras.
``Especially with the cold weather, it helps my eyesight a fraction,'' he said. ``This week is the first time I've played with them. I can see the greens a little better. It's just a little sharper.''
About the only part of his game that is not particularly sharp is his driving, although Goosen atones for that with his putting, as he did on the back nine at Shinnecock Hills in 2004 when he won his second U.S. Open.
Even so, no one in the field at Pebble Beach has won more than Goosen over the last few months, even if few have heard of the tournaments. He won the Iskandar Johor Open on the Asian Tour late last year, then added the Africa Open on the Sunshine Tour.
``I would like to somehow turn my game around a little bit and just start playing a bit better,'' he said. ``When you've struggling, you don't really feel like going out there anymore. So I needed to try and turn everything around and get a bit more motivated.''
Listening in the back of the room was Johnson, who is a fan of the Goose.
``I like his action,'' Johnson said. ``He's very relaxed. He never gets too up, too down.''
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