Goydos breaks drought with win at Sony Open

Jan 15, 2007 - 5:57 AM By Andrew Both PA SportsTicker Golf Writer

HONOLULU (Ticker) - Former substitute school teacher Paul Goydos emerged at the top of the class in a wild finish to win the $5.2 million Sony Open on Sunday, ending a decade-long drought on the PGA Tour.

Goydos nearly eagled the par-5 18th, his ball hitting the pin but failing to drop. However, it was a good break because his ball stopped a foot from the hole and the tap-in birdie proved enough to eke out a one-stroke victory over Charles Howell and Luke Donald at Waialae Country Club.

"I do try to win every decade, so I've accomplished that," Goydos said jokingly after finishing at 14-under 266 for just his second victory on the PGA Tour. His previous triumph came at Bay Hill in 1996 - 257 starts ago.

Less than three months after finishing second in his final event last year to keep his exempt status for 2007, the 42-year-old Californian overcame a horrible start to the final round to collect the $936,000 first prize.

He three-putted the first and third holes for bogeys, missing from inside two feet at the latter, but picked up six birdies and one more bogey the rest of the way in a 3-under 67.

Goydos stuck his nose in front with a 16-foot birdie at the par-4 16th, but fell back into a tie with Howell with a bogey at No. 17. His second shot at the 18th came up short of the green, 25 feet from the hole, and he hit his chip a little thin.

Fortunately, the flag was in the way to stop the ball from running well past the hole and the subsequent birdie ultimately proved good enough.

"Lucky the ball hit the hole," Goydos said. "I never thought it could go in. I'm very fortunate to be sitting here right now."

He still had to dodge two other bullets. First, Donald had a 57-foot eagle chip to force a tie, and his ball also clattered against the pin but did not drop.

"It always had a good line but it was going very fast," Donald said. "It would have taken a bit of luck to go in."

Howell then had a chance to force a playoff, but his 15-foot birdie putt was wide all the way, condemning the 2000 NCAA champion to another agonizing near-miss, his ninth runner-up finish on tour. His lone victory came back in 2002 in an event that no longer exists.

"This one hurts," said Howell, repeating the words three times.

One could hardly blame him, because Howell had a two-shot lead at the turn, but played the back nine in 2-over. Bogeys at Nos. 12 and No. 13 ultimately proved his undoing.

Tadd Fujikawa, the 16-year-old who on Friday became the second-youngest player in history to make a PGA Tour cut, overcome a poor start Sunday but recovered to shoot 72 and tie for 20th at 5-under 275.

Goydos said he was stunned by his victory, particularly after his shaky start.

"I was just trying to hang in there and try to take it one shot at a time," he said. "It sounds like a clich, but things weren't going well early. After the third hole, I really played pretty good and just kept grinding it out. Luckily I made a couple of long (putts) on 15 and 16, and got as lucky as you can get on 18."

As for ending his drought, he said: "I'm just I'm a firm believer that the game ebbs and flows. You have peaks and valleys and I had a reasonably long valley last year. Hopefully right now we're riding toward what's going to be a mesa."

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