PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Retief Goosen became the second player to withdraw from THE PLAYERS Championship, pulling out after nine holes with a back injury.
He was even par with two birdies and two bogeys on the back nine when he withdrew.
Earlier in the day, Bob Estes withdrew before his round, which opened up a spot for Scott Langley.
Goosen came into the week off a tie for 21st in New Orleans.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Retief Goosen withdrew from the Wells Fargo Championship on Wednesday, citing a back injury.
The two-time U.S. Open champ was replaced by Donald Constable. Other WDs this week include Ian Poulter (personal reasons), Vijay Singh (back) and Dustin Johnson (wrist).
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Retief Goosen figures he's about eight millimeters taller these days. The important thing, though, is that he has no pain after the surgery last fall to replace the disc in his back that had basically disintegrated.
The 44-year-old South African shut things down after he tied for 48th at last year's PGA Championship. He was tired of the back spasms he'd battled for several years. He couldn't deal with waking up in pain anymore when he tried to turn over in his bed at night.
So the week after Goosen left Kiawah Island, S.C., he was in London having an operation to put a titanium disc with a rubber center in his back. The next day, Goosen felt significantly better. Within a month, he was walking around virtually pain.
On Thursday, six months after the surgery, Goosen begins his 2013 PGA TOUR campaign at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, playing in the tournament for the third time in his career. He's got a couple of events under his belt, though, the best being a tie for 20th at the Volvo Golf Champions in his native South Africa in his first start. He missed the cut in his other start at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
The two-time U.S. Open champion didn't start hitting balls until mid-December. The first few struck, he said, were "very interesting" and traveled about 70 yards. But within a week, Goosen was hitting drivers and by the holidays he felt like he wanted to tee it up again in competition.
"It was quite exciting," Goosen said. "I struggled to walk the four rounds, but my back felt great. Never had any issues in my back."
Prior to the surgery, though, Goosen was wondering whether he had a future in the game.
"It was impossible to go through 18 holes without getting spasms in the back and struggling to hit some shots on certain lies," Goosen said. "For me the decision was not easy, but in a way I just felt it could only be better. ... At that stage I pretty much felt like my career was over. I couldn't hit the ball anymore; I couldn't practice."
Now that he can hit balls in earnest, Goosen -- who believes he is the first pro golfer to ever have a disc replacement -- plans to play a full schedule on the PGA TOUR. He has fallen to 119th in the world rankings and is only exempt for one of the majors, the U.S. Open, and none of the World Golf Championships. So there's work to be done.
"I feel 20 years younger coming in this year," said Goosen, who finished third at Pebble Beach in 2009. "I feel great. For me, I feel like I got a lot better chance of playing better now than I did the last couple of years at least just because the way I feel.
"It's still early days. ... We'll see how it will hold up in the next few months playing a lot and getting back into the swing things. But for me, so far the results are unbelievable."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- Considering he rated himself a 5 out of 10 health-wise, Retief Goosen's round of 67 Thursday in the first round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational was pretty impressive.
Goosen, who made six birdies and dropped just two shots to par, has been battling a degenerating L3-L4 disk for the better part of the last year. As if that's not bad enough, "some of the bone is growing a bit funny," the South African said.
Physiotheraphy sessions help stem the tide, and he's been consulting a cadre of doctors in an attempt to avoid back surgery.
"At the moment we've just got to keep grinding away and play well," said Goosen, who is one shot off the early lead.
The two-time U.S. Open champ, who ranks 139th in the FedExCup, says he struggles to keep the muscles from firing down the lower back. Cortisone shots have helped keep the 43-year-old going. He's even had PRP injections like Fred Couples and Vijay Singh did earlier this year.
"At the moment it is a struggle to sleep properly and to get going in the mornings, to warm up," Goosen said. "And yeah, I'm losing a lot of distance out there on the golf course. I can't quite go at it as hard as I would like to."
Even so, Goosen, who says he normally can't hit more than 30 balls after a round before he's struggling to stand up straight, is coming off his best finish of the season at the RBC Canadian Open that included a third-round 63. In fact, that was his second tie for 10th in his last three starts, with the other coming at the U.S. Open.
Goosen has never won a World Golf Championships event, although he does have 12 top-10s, including a tie for third at Firestone two years ago. He says the greens this year are running at Augusta speeds, which has always been his preference, and he used 30 putts on Thursday.
"I like this golf course," Goosen said. "I don't know, for some reason I putt better on quicker greens, so I feel like I can make a better stroke when I just have to stroke it and not hit it. The greens are perfect here. If you hit it on the right line, it's good. But they're also very tricky. There's a lot of break on them, so it's hard to get the right lines, as well."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Retief Goosen was playing the Transitions Championship on borrowed time.
With his back in such bad shape that it will require Platelet-rich Plasma injections next week, Goosen played his way to the lead through three rounds at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook with smoke, mirrors and a Band-Aid swing.
The final round it all fell apart with Goosen making double bogey on the par-5 first, where he flared his tee shot right and into the trees, and going out in 40 on his way to a 4-over 75 and a tie for 20th.
“I just can't get on to my left side,” said Goosen, whose last chance to qualify for the Masters came and went. He will skip next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard to receive treatment on his back and doesn’t plan to play the Shell Houston Open.
“Played like a dog, simple as that. I could have done better than that, working with the issue on my back, but I wouldn't say my back was any worse.”
His back might not have been but his game certainly was. A day after shooting 65, Goosen made five bogeys, one double bogey and three birdies. He lost his lead on the first hole and never came close to regaining it.
”[Saturday] I hit a lot of bad shots and got a way with it and today I didn't,” Goosen said.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- The final pairing of Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen won’t tee off for almost another two hours (1:50 p.m. ET) but when they do they’ll take some pretty good history with them to the first tee.
Furyk, for example, has led or shared the lead going into the final round 13 times in his career and gone on to wine on nine of those occasions (the last was at THE TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola in 2010). Goosen, meanwhile, was in the final pairing when he won both his Transitions titles here in 2003 and 2009.
Here’s more on Furyk and Goosen as they get set for the final round:
Jim Furyk (66-70-66)
-- Furyk has won 16 times on the PGA TOUR, including here at the Transitions Championship in 2010.
-- Of his 16 victories, Furyk has won two events multiple times -- the Las Vegas Invitational in 1995, 1998, 1999 and the Canadian Open in 2006, 2007.
-- When Furyk won here two years ago, he had a three-stroke lead going into the final round before hanging on to win by one over K.J. Choi.
-- Furyk’s best finish in four starts this season was a tie for 11th at the Northern Trust Open.
Retief Goosen (69-68-65)
-- Goosen’s 65 on Saturday was not only the low round of the day but his best score ever on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook (beating his previous best of a 66 in 2003 in the second round and in 2004 in the third round).
-- Goosen has posted three consecutive sub-70 rounds in his first 54 holes for the first time since last year’s Wyndham Championship, where he tied for fifth. He has not carded four straight scores in the 60s since the 2010 Travelers Championship (a stretch of 26 starts).
-- Goosen has won seven times on the PGA TOUR, including at the 2001 and 2004 U.S. Open, but his win here in 2009 was his last victory on TOUR.
-- Goosen’s best finish this year was a tie for 34th at the Northern Trust Open. His last top-10 was a tie for third at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in 2011 (a span of 11 starts).
Check out the top five shots of the week from the Accenture Match Play Championship with highlights from Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Francesco Molinari, and Tiger Woods.