NEWPORT BEACH (CNS) – South African Retief Goosen shot the day’s lowest round to win the $2 million Hoag Classic PGA Tour Champions tournament by four shots over South Korean K.J. Choi today at Newport Beach Country Club.
Goosen entered Sunday’s play among three golfers tied for second, one shot behind Ernie Els, then took the lead by sinking what he described as a 20- yard “tricky bunker shot” for an eagle on the par-4 325-yard first hole, his only eagle of the three-round tournament.
“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 five feet past the hole,” Goosen said. “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.”
Goosen then birdied the par-4 second hole and par-5 third, tying his best consecutive birdies/eagle streak in his 62 starts on the Champions Tour. Goosen also birdied the par-4 sixth hole, then had three consecutive pars to complete the front nine at 5-under 30.
Goosen began the back nine with a birdie on the par-4 10th hole, then had what he called “a bad bogey” on the par-4 11th, three-putting from the back of the green. It was his only bogey of the round.
Goosen rebounded with a birdie on the par-4 12th hole, birdied the 15 and 18th holes, both par-5s, for the first time in the tournament to complete his round at 8-under 63, his second-lowest while playing the Champions Tour, and 15-under 198 for the tournament.
The 53-year-old Goosen received $300,000 for his second victory on the Champions Tour and first since the 2019 Bridgestone Senior Players Championship. The World Golf Hall of Fame member has seven victories on the PGA Tour, including the 2001 and 2004 U.S. Opens.
“I was pretty nervous out there today,” said Goosen, who tied for 64th in the Cologuard Classic, which concluded last Sunday in Tucson, Arizona, 23 shots behind champion Miguel Angel Jiménez. “Last week I struggled badly with allergies and couldn’t see the ball and this week it was a lot better. My lips are still broken from last week.
“Last week it was just I couldn’t putt, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t do anything. 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.”
Els shot a 2-over-73 with six bogeys and four birdies to drop to seventh at six-under 207, nine shots off the lead.
“He didn’t play bad, he just couldn’t make a putt,” said Goosen, who played in the final group with Els and American Lee Janzen, who are all two- time U.S. Open champions. “Once you struggle to make putts on these poa annua greens, it’s difficult to see the lines.
“He actually hit a lot of good putts coming in on the back nine that shaved the hole, but unfortunately a couple of three-putts coming in.” Choi entered Sunday’s play tied for fifth, two shots off the lead, then shot a 5-under 66 Sunday with six birdies, four over the final six holes, and a bogey on the par-3 17th, to finish at 11-under 202 for the tournament, earning $176,000.