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Retief Goosen | Courtesy Hoag Classic


Retief Goosen Opens Final Round at Hoag Classic with Eagle and Soars to Victory

The South African golfer wins over a stellar field at California’s spectacular Newport Beach Country Club.

Retief Goosen holed out for eagle from a greenside bunker on the short par-4 first hole, then proceeded to birdie the next two holes and flew away from a deep field that included eight hall of famers, gliding to an 8-under 63 and a four-stroke victory Sunday in the Hoag Classic at the Newport Beach Country Club in Orange County, California.

Though he entered the final round a stroke behind fellow South African star Ernie Els, Goosen was feeling it from the start and never let up. He followed up the early eagle and pair of birdies with a birdie on the par-4 sixth. He birdied the par-3 10th, rebounded from a bogey on the par-4 11th with birdies on the par-4 12th and par-5 15th, and capped it off in style with 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th to finish at 15-under 198.

But it all started with the brilliant bunker play at the first hole where his blast out of the sand hit the flagstick and dropped in the cup without touching the green.

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“I was up against the left lip,” Goosen said. “It was awkward. The ball was well below my feet although I was standing in an uphill lie. It wasn’t an easy one to get comfortable on. As I say, yeah, it just came out a little hot.”

Nothing was easy about the shot.


Courtesy Hoag Classic


Courtesy Hoag Classic

“You had to fly it over that ridge,” Goosen said. “So, my main goal was to obviously land it up there as far as I can, and I was thinking if I hit a good shot, it will probably finish 5 feet past the hole.

“It just came out a little hotter than I expected and hit the flag and went straight in. It was very, very lucky. Whenever you hit a flag it could go anywhere, it could have come back off the green.”

Even though he recorded his lowest round of the season in the final round with 5-under 66 and his lowest 54-hole score of the 2022 season 11-under 202, K.J. Choi finished second.

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“I was keeping my eye on K.J. in front of me,” Goosen said. “I was watching him making birdies, so I knew I had to keep making birdies myself.”

Lee Janzen (69) and Stephen Ames (67) tied for third at 9 under. Doug Barron and Tim Petrovic each shot 67 to finish at 7 under.

Els was sixth at 6 under after a 73. He won the event in 2020 the last time it was played (the event was not held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.).

In a rarity, the final group featured three two-time U.S. Open champions in Goosen, Els and Janzen.

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“We had a great vibe between the three of us today on the course,” Goosen said.

Another leading contender, Bernhard Langer, closed with a 70 to tie for eighth at 5 under. The 64-year-old German star, the 2008 winner, added his 43rd senior title by winning the Chubb Classic two weeks ago in Florida. He is now just two behind Hale Irwin for the tour record.

For Goosen, coming off offseason shoulder surgery, it was a satisfying victory (just his second on the Champions Tour, also winning the 2019 Senior Players Championship).

“It was great this week to be back in and playing. The swing felt great, I drove it nicely this week, a lot of good iron shots. I can’t complain. Obviously, you win by three or four, you played well.”

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