PGA Tour Champions a cut above (since there is no cut)

By Steve Waters
Published on

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- As they begin to approach their 50th birthdays, most PGA Tour pros really look forward to playing in PGA Tour Champions events.

That's where they get to renew friendships and rivalries with the guys they played against for most of their amateur and professional careers.

Plus, most of the other seniors hit the ball as far as they do, so no longer are they outdriven by 40 or more yards by a bunch of kids.

But the best thing about the Champions circuit said Paul Goydos, who defends his Allianz Championship title this week at the Old Course at Broken Sound, is that most of the senior fields are not cut after 36 holes.

That means a player can have a bad hole or two during the first round and not worry about going home early.

"On the PGA Tour, you have to get off to a good start," said Goydos, who missed the cut anywhere from 33 to 50 percent of the time he teed it up on the regular tour. "It's easier to be patient on the Champions Tour."

Goydos won twice during his 22-year PGA Tour career. After turning 50 in June 2014, he won in his fifth tournament on the senior circuit, then won again at Allianz four months later.

He went on to have seven more top-10 finishes in 2015 and was 11th on the money list with just over $1.1 million in 22 events.

The Californian got off to an excellent start here last year, shooting a 6-under-par 66 for a three-way tie for the lead. A 69 in the second round put him in a four-way tie for the lead. He birdied the 18th hole the final day to shoot another 69 and win by one shot over Gene Sauers.

Looking back, Goydos said that among the keys to his victory was avoiding the big numbers that derailed those with whom he was tied.

He birdied the par-5 first hole the first day, then got up and down for clutch pars the next two days.

During the final round, Goydos was tied for the lead with Tom Pernice when Pernice took a triple-bogey 6 on the par-3 3rd hole. Pernice ended up tied for 11th after a 74.

After five holes, Goydos was two shots behind Rod Spittle, who took a 10 on the par-5 sixth and ended up shooting 73 to tie for ninth place.

"You have to kind of be careful," said Goydos, who highlighted his final round by sinking a 45-foot chip for a birdie on the ninth hole.

Equally memorable was his play on the 18th hole.

"I thought I had a one-shot advantage teeing off, which makes it easier to hit it in the fairway," said Goydos, who left himself with 207 yards to the pin from the left side of the fairway of the par-5 finishing hole.

As he walked to his ball, he looked at a scoreboard and saw that he was tied with Sauers, who had completed his round.

Goydos said he could've played his second shot to the right side of the green and left himself a 40- to 50-foot eagle putt, which he admitted is "not my strength. I would've been choking my guts out."

So instead he decided to be aggressive and hit a 3-hybrid at the pin, knowing that if the shot was long, it would be against the grandstand at the back of the green and he'd receive a free drop.

As Goydos explained, chipping or pitching the ball to within five feet would be acceptable, especially compared with having to roll a 40-foot putt to within three feet.

But Goydos did even better, using a lob wedge on his 35-foot downhill chip to get the ball to within inches of the cup, "which makes life a lot easier."

After all, few things in golf are better than a tap-in birdie to win a tournament on the final hole.

"It was satisfying to execute how I envisioned it," said Goydos of his play on the 18th. "That's kind of a cool thing to do."

This article was written by Steve Waters from Sun Sentinel and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.