Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Golf

Retief Goosen tied for Transitions Championship lead despite sore back

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PALM HARBOR — It seems as if Retief Goosen can play Innisbrook's Copperhead course blindfolded and still break par.

For the past three days, the two-time champion of the Transitions Championship has played with a back so painful, it takes an extra 45 minutes each morning just to get ready. It hurts so much, he already has withdrawn from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which starts Thursday at Bay Hill.

Yet there's Goosen, tied for the lead after shooting 6-under 65 Saturday.

"Since the British Open (in July), it has been pretty bad," he said.

"The last three weeks, it's started to get bad again, so we decided to call it a day and withdraw from Bay Hill."

Goosen, 43, has an L-3 bulging disc in his back. He said he plans on getting protein injections on Wednesday in Virginia Beach, Va., to ease the pain. Goosen, who is ranked 52nd in the world, still hopes to play in the Masters, which starts April 5.

In order to qualify, he must win today or finish high enough here and at the Houston Open in two weeks to move into the top 50 in the rankings.

"It hurts on every shot," Goosen said. "I've actually had to change my address position so it doesn't pinch as much. In a way, it has helped me with my balance.

"My back was actually better (Friday) than (Saturday), but that's golf. Some days you make putts, and some days you don't."

History lesson: In the 11 previous Transitions Championships, the third-round leader has gone on to win six times. Most recently, Jim Furyk did it in 2010.

Dufner stays put: Saturday is moving day on the tour, but Jason Dufner stayed right where he was. After consecutive 66s, Dufner shot par 71 and was tied for second, one back. He is looking for his first tour win.

"Hopefully, that's my worst round of the week," Dufner said. "Anything can happen with as many people who are bunched up like that. Hopefully, I'll have a nice round like the first two days."

No luck of the Irish: Padraig Harrington must have used up all his luck on Thursday. The Irishman shot 10-under 61, a Copperhead record, in the first round. But he followed that with 73 and 72. He is still only four shots off the lead after having a five-shot lead on Thursday.

Looking to repeat: Gary Woodland shot 3-under 68 and is five behind the leaders. He is trying to become the first player to win consecutive Transitions.

How coincidental: When Furyk won the 2010 Transitions, he played in the final group with Goosen and K.J. Choi. When he won the Tour Championship later in the year, he was paired with Goosen in the final group. Today, he is paired with Goosen in the final group.

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