On a day where nine different golfers held the lead at one point, you could say that Paul Goydos was truly the last man standing when he sunk his birdie putt on the 18th green to win the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton.
You could say that because that is exactly how it felt out there as the day progressed. Starting the final round with a four way tie for the lead at 9-under between Goydos, Tom Pernice Jr, Rod Spittle, and Bart Bryant, the final round of the 2015 Allianz Championship started to have the feel of the 2014 Honda Classic up the road in Palm Beach Gardens.
Pernice started the day with a quick birdie to separate himself, but a triple bogey six on the par 3 third derailed his day when his tee shot went in the water and he flew the green with his shot from the drop zone.
Then it was Spittle’s turn to get into the lead when birdies on 2, 4, and 5 gave him a two shot lead. Then he got to the par 5 6th hole. After hitting his second shot to the collection area just to the right of the green, Spittle bladed his third shot into the water. Laying five at the this point, Spittle failed to hit his next shot up the green, landing it short and rolling all the way back to the water once again. He finally got it up on to the green and after two putting walked away with a quintuple bogey 10, effectively ending his tournament.
The par 5 6th didn’t just do in Spittle, it also claimed Mark Brooks who earlier had a share of the lead before recording a 7, which gave the lead to Spittle momentarily. With all this going on, you had to wonder if Goydos would also falter and put up a big number at some point.
“We were definitely out of rhythm and out of sync,” Goydos said. “The first hole, Rod chunks a chip and I chip it over the green and you would have thought it was Broken Arrow net best ball tournament. Tom didn’t make a good swing on the par 3 and Rod hit a couple shot’s he would probably like to have back on the par 5. What it does, is it takes you out of the flow. We definitely were struggling with rhythm.”
While Goydos was playing his back nine there were plenty of golfers ahead of him that continued to put the pressure on, even if he wasn’t aware of it until 18.
He birdied 12 to ultimately take the lead for the final time but that didn’t mean that groups ahead of him weren’t still gunning for him.
Jose Coceres started the day on the back nine at even par. He shot six under on the back 9 and after a birdie on the 7th hole (his 16th of the day) actually held the lead briefly at 10-under. A bogey at 8 ended up ending any chances he had of a win, but his final round 63 was the low round of the event.
Fred Funk, John Huston, and defending champion Michael Allen got it to 10-under, but the closest anyone got to Goydos was Gene Sauers who birdied 18 to get into a tie at 11-under. In fact, it wasn’t until Goydos was walking up the 18th fairway that he even knew that anyone was even up there on the leader board with him.
“There’s a score board about 200 yards from the tee box on 18 and I look over and I’m not even on top anymore because Sauers is 11-under and I was like, ‘Where did he come from?’ I thought everyone was 10-under par and finished.” Goydos said.
Despite all the pressure that was being put on Goydos all afternoon, the general consensus from the rest of the field was that there was no doubt in their mind that Goydos would finish the thing off. That came as a surprise to Goydos who, in 507 starts on the PGA Tour, only won twice.
“I don’t know how a guy can win twice and be a good front runner,” he said. “If you asked me that when I was 30 or 32 or 33, the answer would have been no.”
Goydos prevailed in the end though, something he attributed to the maturity he has gained over his long golf career. In fact, he said that if he had played today’s round 10 years ago, he had no doubt that he would not be holding the trophy.
“Statistics are a wonderful predictor of the past,” Goydos said. ”Part of it is experience and maturity. If I played like I did today 10 years ago, I don’t think there’s any way I would have won this tournament. But I am more comfortable in that situation now and I felt pretty good about things.It goes back to it’s easy when you’re playing well. Like a basketball team, like the Miami Heat. When the Heat are playing well, they’re going to win. It’s how you play when you’re not playing well. Today, I struggled a lot, but hung in there.”
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