Retief Goosen has experienced success at East Lake, specifically in 2004 when he won THE TOUR Championship by four strokes over Tiger Woods.
That was back before the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup was created.
So now the stakes are higher, but the course still seems quite inviting for Goosen, who carded a 4-under 66 to put himself near the top of the leaderboard going into the final 36 holes.
Goosen produced the best front nine of the day, going out in 31 as he birdied the third hole, then finished the front nine with three consecutive birdies.
It was a much different -- make that much better -- feeling than his opening 71 on Thursday.
"Yesterday, I was up-and-down on every hole," Goosen said, "and today I had a birdie chance on every hole."
In his first five starts at East Lake, Goosen never finished outside the top 10. But last year, he was 23rd in the 30-man field.
He seems back in form this week, but other than a bit of knowledge on the greens, he isn't sure that his past success at East Lake will help him this week.
"You're going to have to play well," he said. "It doesn't matter if you're a past champion."
Retief Goosen rolls in a long putt for birdie on the par-4 seventh hole.
Retief Goosen is nine holes into what could become the low round of the tournament so far. He’s just rolled in three straight birdie putts to make the turn in 4 under.
The quiet South African is 3 under for the tournament, which is two behind Jim Furyk and Luke Donald. To see Goosen play well at East Lake should come as no surprise, though – he won THE TOUR Championship is 2004.
Goosen trailed Tiger Woods and Jay Haas by four strokes entering the final round that year. He fired a 64 on Sunday and ended up beating Woods by four.
Goosen has played 21 rounds East Lake and he’s broken par 13 times. Looks like he’ll make it 14 on Friday.
Ranked No. 20 in the FedExCup standings, Retief Goosen appears safely in THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola.
The way he’s playing through the first two rounds at Cog Hill, though, the South African just might get to East Lake ranked among the top five. He’s currently 4 under through 15 holes and tied for fourth.
Goosen, who won the Transitions Championship last year, needs to win or finish second to move into the top five. Those are the players who can win the FedExCup with a victory at East Lake.
Retief Goosen, ranked 20th in FedExCup points, is looking to seal his spot for the top 30 who advance to THE TOUR Championship. He’s off to a good start, shooting a first-round 4-under 67 at the BMW Championship.
That’s not an unusual first-round score for Goosen. In his last six starts, he has opened with a 67 four times.
Goosen’s 67 on Thursday was unusual in that he holed out on three holes, according to ShotLink. Two of those were bunker shots.
At the par-4 third, he holed out from a greenside bunker from 37 feet.
At the par-3 14th, he holed out from another greenside bunker from 59-1/2 feet.
Then at the par-5 15th, he holed out from the fringe from 12-1/2 feet.
The hole-outs allowed Goosen to salvage a round in which he hit just 10 of 18 greens in regulation and eight of 14 fairways.
“That obviously helps,” Goosen said. “I need to start hitting a little bit better from tee to green to stay up there.”
In the FedExCup scenarios, Goosen needs to finish 66th or better this week to be in the top 30. With just 70 players in the field, he can pretty much punch his ticket to East Lake as long as he doesn’t collapse in the next three rounds.
Goosen hasn’t won this year but his eight top-10 finishes gave him enough points to keep him in the Playoffs hunt.
Still, after a tie for third at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Goosen has struggled to find his game. He finished tied for 55th at the PGA Championship, then tied for 21st at The Barclays and tied for 25th at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
“I've been working my (butt) off the last three weeks trying to find something,” Goosen said. “I'm just struggling to start the ball on line. Everything is shaping away from the flag and not towards the flag or away from the fairway.
“It's just hard to get something going and feel like I've got a bit of a stress‑free round out there. The way I'm playing now, every hole is a bit of a fight.”
It’s a glorious day at Ridgewood – plenty of sun, blue skies and low humidity. The players teeing off early in The Barclays are taking full advantage of the optimum scoring conditions, too.
Ian Poulter went off in the first group of the day and fired a bogey-free 66 that moved him to 5 under and within three shots of Jason Day’s lead. Of course, the Aussie won’t be teeing off for about two more hours.
Ryan Palmer, who made five straight birdies to open his first round, has just reeled off four in a row to move to 6 under for the tournament. He’s 4 under through seven holes on Saturday.
Retief Goosen birdied three straight starting at the fourth hole and he’s now 5 under for the tournament.
Bill Haas is playing the 18th hole right now. He’s made five birdies, one eagle and three bogeys to move to 4 under for the day and the tournament.
Steve Stricker, who started the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup in second place, reeled off three straight birdies starting at the second hole. He bogeyed No. 6 but remains 4 under for the tournament.
If there was a comeback player of the tournament award, it would have to go to Retief Goosen.
The South African started the third round in the lead but promptly lost it with a grisly triple bogey at the first hole where he came up short, then mis-hit a wedge over the green and chipped on only to see the ball roll back off the green.
“I chipped it and it came back down and took about two minutes for the ball to stop moving,” Goosen said Saturday after shooting a 73. “It kept moving, just like a slow motion move, and then actually I got on the green and then two putts.
“So it wasn’t a good way to start unfortunately. You’re never really going to come back from that but I was trying.”
Goosen, who started Sunday in a tie for 16th, may have spoken too soon. He’s just two-putted from 30 feet at the 16th hole to move to 5 under for the day and 9 under for the tournament.
Goosen is going to be the leader in the clubhouse as the pressure mounts on Sunday. Hunter Mahan, who is 11 under, will have five holes remaining while Sean O’Hair is just making the turn at 10 under. – Helen Ross
There’s been a change at the top of the leaderboard as Retief Goosen made a triple bogey on the first hole.
Bubba Watson, on the other hand, birdied his first two holes to move to 7 under and regain the top spot he held after the first round. Watson’s birdie putt at the first hole was from 10 holes and he two-putted the par-5 second from 27 feet.
Justin Leonard just moved into a tie with Watson, as well, when he got up and down for birdie from the greenside bunker at the second hole. – Helen Ross
When he finished off his round of 66 early Friday afternoon, Retief Goosen was setting the pace at 7 under and eagerly anticipating the final two rounds.
“I don't think I'm going to be too far off the lead by the end of the day, and we'll see what I can do around here on the weekend,” the South African said.
Actually, Goosen’s advantage held up – although Phil Mickelson joined Justin Leonard at 6 under when the lefthander shot 68 in the afternoon. First-round leader Bubba Watson gave up a little ground with his 71 but he’s well within range at 5 under, too, and tied with Peter Hanson and Bo Van Pelt.
“I just didn’t make the putts today,” Watson said. “The greens speeds were a little slower and I couldn’t get used to it. After yesterday being lightning fast and today a little bit slower, probably a foot slower, I just couldn’t get used to it. I never made the putts that I made (Thursday).”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, World No. 1 Tiger Woods and his playing partner Lee Westwood, who is ranked No. 3, struggled again – for different reasons.
Westwood ended up withdrawing after his 76 due to that ruptured muscle in his right calf while Woods couldn’t find fairways again, hitting just three, and shooting a 72 that left him 6 over. Westwood will not play in the PGA Championship, either. – Helen Ross
Retief Goosen has repeatedly put himself in contention this year, and the Bridgestone Invitational is no exception.
The South African, who has a TOUR-leading seven top-10 finishes in 13 starts this year, shot a 66 on Friday to seize the lead at the midway point of the World Golf Championships event. He's 7 under and one stroke ahead of Justin Leonard and Phil Mickelson after 36 holes.
"I got off to a nice start and played pretty solid," Goosen said. "... Happy with the round. I've not done so well around this course in the past, so it's nice to play well for two rounds and see how I can do on the weekend."
Goosen has been putting extremely well this week with 25 putts in the first round and 26 more on Friday. He hit all but three fairways in the second round, too, and 11 of 18 greens.
"Every part of your game needs to be good here, driving especially," Goosen said. "It's a good driving golf course. You need to hit it on the fairway, otherwise you're struggling.
"I think the difference is here is I'm putting pretty well. I didn't drive it so good yesterday but caught a few breaks, and today I drove it a bit better. But the putting has been pretty good the last two rounds."
As well as he putted, though, Goosen said the catalyst in his round was a chip he holed for birdie at No. 4 on Friday. He also two-putted from 6 feet at the par-5 second while his other birdies came from 8, 6, 33 and 15 feet.
"I hit a good drive down the fairway (at No. 4) and had a lot of mud on the ball and hit a 6 iron that went probably 25 yards left of the green, and I chipped it in," Goosen said. "So that was sort of the turnaround. You're looking at definitely maybe making bogey there and chipping it in there sort of turned my round around and kept it going."
Goosen has won seven times on the PGA TOUR, most recently at the 2009 Transitions Championship. His best finish at the Bridgestone Invitational is a tie for fourth in 2008 but all that could change this week.
"I've been playing quite consistent this year, which is quite nice," Goosen said. "I've just not been really winning. obviously you want to win. But I've had a lot of top 10s this year, but that doesn't mean anything. It's that No. 1 that counts.
"This would be a great event to get my first win for the year. I don't think I'm going to be too far off the lead by the end of the day, and we'll see what I can do around here on the weekend." -- Helen Ross
Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson have just made the turn and are tied for second, one stroke behind Retief Goosen.
Mickelson started on the front and has made three birdies and one bogey to move to 6 under. Watson actually was tied for the lead when he made an 8-footer for birdie on the 16th hole.
Watson, though, gave one back when he missed the green at No. 18 and couldn’t get up-and-down from 40 feet.