At a crucial moment during Sunday's final round of the Chrysler Championship, Retief Goosen stood over his tee shot at the par-3 13th hole, only a stroke ahead of Vijay Singh, when he had to back off. A loud noise overhead distracted him _ a helicopter taking off from the Innisbrook property. In fact, it was fellow South African Ernie Els, who had completed his round and was headed for his Orlando home at Lake Nona. At the time, Goosen, who birdied the hole and went on to win the tournament, didn't know it was Els. "At least he could have waited an hour to give me a lift," said Goosen, who also has a home at Lake Nona, 100 yards from Els.
Tiger Woods and Justin Leonard are the only players in this week's Tour Championship among active players with at least two full seasons on the PGA Tour to qualify for the season-ending tournament in each season as a professional. Woods' streak dates to the 1996 season when he turned pro in August and qualified in just eight tournaments. Leonard has qualified for every Tour Championship _ for the top 30 money winners _ since 1995. Phil Mickelson failed to make it this year for the first time in his career.
Retief Goosen took the lead during the second round of the Chrysler Championship and never relinquished it, giving the tournament a quality winner in its first year.
Vijay Singh could not overtake Goosen, but has now finished 1-2-1-2 in his last four starts.
The Copperhead course at Innisbrook stood proud, challenging the best in the world and eliciting their praise.
Masters champion Mike Weir made his move too late, shooting 67 the last day to tie for 13th.
Despite a home-course advantage, Clearwater's John Huston could do no better than a tie for 34th and missed a chance to qualify for next year's Masters, although he will have other avenues to get in.
Rocco Mediate's missed cut at the Chrysler Championship cost him a spot in this week's Tour Championship. He was 30th entering the week but was bumped out by Briny Baird.
"It's starting out to be a great year now for me. It was a bit of a slow start, but it's been a great year, the birth of our first child (Leo), now a win in Europe and a win over here. It's turning out to be a very good year."
_ RETIEF GOOSEN
After his victory at the Chrysler Championship.
Stat of the Week
Three of the top eight finishers at the Chrysler Championship now rank in the top 8 of the most recent world ranking: Vijay Singh (second), Davis Love (fourth) and Retief Goosen (eighth).
_ Bob Harig