Contenders Collapse; Goosen and Gore Squander Title Hopes with Disastrous Rounds

By Smits, Garry | The Florida Times Union, June 20, 2005 | Go to article overview

Contenders Collapse; Goosen and Gore Squander Title Hopes with Disastrous Rounds


Smits, Garry, The Florida Times Union


Byline: GARRY SMITS

PINEHURST, N.C. -- One was the two-time U.S. Open champion known for taking pressure and squeezing victories out of it.

The other was literally a Cinderella story, a Nationwide Tour veteran who captured the imagination of the galleries and media at Pinehurst No. 2 this week.

By the end of the final round on Sunday, they were partners in misery, the final pairing of the U.S. Open who staggered home so meekly that they joked about an imaginary bet over the final four holes, when they had long played their way out of contention for the title.

In both cases, the finish was startling. Defending Open champion Retief Goosen, who won an 18-hole playoff at Southern Hills in 2001, then stared down Phil Mickelson to win at Shinnecock last year; and Jason Gore, the rotund, fun-loving underdog, both shot in the 80s to douse their chances of winning long before Michael Campbell actually closed it out.

Goosen shot an 81, beating by a whopping eight shots his previous high score on the weekend of a U.S. Open, and lost a three-shot lead at the start of the day to finish tied for 11th, eight shots behind Campbell. And Gore had an even worse day, shooting an 84 that was the highest round of the weekend and dropped him from a tie for second to a tie for 49th. Their best-ball score was a 76 that still wouldn't have overtaken Campbell.

"It's been a bad day," Goosen said. "It happened to Ernie [Els] last year [when Els shot 80 in the final round at Shinnecock after starting the day in second] and unfortunately, it was my turn."

"Stuff like this happens in a U.S. Open," Gore said. "I didn't swing well and I didn't make any putts. The guy who played the best won."

Their problems began with early double-bogeys, and continued to mount with a steady succession of missed fairways and greens, chips that rolled from one side of the greens to the other, and horrendous putting.

Goosen's hatchet job on the greens was the most unexpected development of the day. After all, this was the same player who had eight one-putts to beat Mark Brooks at Southern Hills, and a mind-boggling 11 one-putts to thwart Mickelson last year. …

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