The Goose flies high at Pebble Beach
Retief Goosen, seeking his first PGA Tour title in more than three years, charged two strokes clear early in the second round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Friday.
Three shots off the pace overnight, South African Goosen fired a sizzling eight-under-par 64 on the Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of three venues being used this week.
Big-hitting Dustin Johnson, co-leader with fellow American Robert Garrigus after the opening round, was alone in second after carding a 69 on the more difficult Spyglass Hill layout.
Garrigus mixed four birdies with three bogeys on his way to a 71 at Poppy Hills to lie four strokes off the pace, level with compatriots Charley Hoffman (70) and Mark Calcavecchia (69), plus Canadian Mike Weir (69).
“I’m very happy about the round,” a smiling Goosen told reporters after recording an eagle, seven birdies and a lone bogey.
“I’m not feeling like I’m driving it too great ... but my half-shots into the greens have been very good this week. That’s what is keeping me up there at the moment, hitting it pretty close with those shots and then making the putts.”
Twice US Open champion Goosen, known as “The Goose”, made a flying start on another calm day on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula by eagling the par-five second.
He picked up further shots at the fourth, fifth and sixth before bogeying the par-three seventh to reach the turn in four-under 32.
The South African, who has switched to a belly putter this week, also birdied the 11th, 13th, 15th and the last, where he struck a wedge to three feet, to take control of the tournament.
Goosen, who turned 40 earlier this month, has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2005 International.
A former world number three, he slipped to 45th in the rankings after a 2008 campaign featuring just two top-10s in 18 starts on the PGA Tour.
However, after working hard on his fitness and putting, he signalled he was close to his best by winning last month’s Africa Open in his homeland after closing with a seven-under-par 65.
“I’ve lost about 16 pounds in weight, and I’m a lot fitter and stronger than I’ve been for the last couple of years,” Goosen said.
“I won a couple of small events towards the end of last year and last month I won a smallish event in South Africa. I’ve been playing okay. I just need to drive it a little bit better.”
World number four and 2004 winner Vijay Singh, back on the PGA Tour after a four-week break after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, battled to a 75 at Pebble Beach to lie a distant 15 shots off the lead. - Reuters