Goosen's brilliant finish in Qatar denies O'Hern
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2007 Qatar Masters | Wrap | 29 Jan 2007
A remarkable birdie, eagle finish at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters has seen South African, Retief Goosen, come from two behind the Australian, Nick O’Hern, with two holes to play to snatch an unlikely victory.
O’Hern looked to be in control of the event when he birdied the short par four 16th after a delicate pitch to four feet. At that point he had moved to 14 under and just one ahead of Ernie Els who was already in the Clubhouse while his playing partners, Goosen and Richard Green, were at 12 under along with Stuart Appleby. Appleby, like Els, was finished for the day.
While others staked their claims and had their chances, the final nine holes essentially developed into a battle between O’Hern and Goosen. O’Hern had been magnificent around the greens all day but it was over the closing ten holes where it appeared his brilliant short game might just carry him to his first European Tour victory.
At the 9th hole, O’Hern holed a 22 foot birdie putt to rejoin his joint third round leaders, Goosen and Green, in the lead at 12 under. At the 10th he got up and down from 75 yards for another birdie at the par five and moved to 13 under although Goosen had also made a birdie after just missing the green long and left. Green was unable able to make birdie and he trailed by one.
Pars followed at the 11th and 12th for both O’Hern and Goosen but at the 13th O’Hern started a run of brilliant up and downs that would, four holes later, see him taking the lead with two to play.
O’Hern’s great chip and run to three feet from 60 feet at the 13th was followed by an even longer up and down at the 14th, after coming up short with his approach from the rough. At the 15th both O’Hern and Goosen were at 13 under as they stood on the tee. Both missed the green left with their approaches from the fairway but when O’Hern made an outstanding chip to four feet, from a very awkward angle to save par, he had moved one ahead of Els and Goosen.
Three groups ahead, on the 18th hole, Els found the green with a fine fairway wood second shot, although he was still some 70 feet from the hole. After he had two putted he had joined O’Hern in the lead although the Australian still had birdie opportunities at the 16th and 18th to come. So too did Goosen but it would be O’Hern who, despite a poor tee shot at the 16th, was still able to make yet another great up and down for birdie at the reachable par four. Goosen was just through the green with his driver from the tee but hit a poor chip to ten feet and missed and had fallen two behind O’Hern.
Richard Green after being in a share of the lead as the last group made the turn, fell away with bogeys at the 12th and 13th but found the green with his tee shot at the 16th and holed a 35 foot eagle putt to move back within two of O’Hern and one behind Els, a position he at that stage shared with Goosen and Appleby.
Goosen gave his chances of challenging O’Hern a great boost at the par three 17th when he hit his tee shot to five feet. When he holed out he was within one of O’Hern with the reachable (for Goosen) par five 18th to come.
Goosen found the fairway with one of his best drives of the day at the last but O’Hern was again wayward from the tee as he had been for much of the final round. O’Hern could only advance the ball 120 yards or so on his second shot and was still left with more than 200 yards to the hole for his third. Goosen hit a beautiful second to just off the back edge of the green although some 35 feet from the hole.
O’Hern reached the green with his third although he was more than 70 feet from the hole. The permutations as to what might happen over the next five minutes were many. Either player could win but the more likely scenario appeared to be a playoff. When O’Hern ran his putt to three feet the pressure moved to Goosen to two putt for the possible playoff to become a reality.
Up against the collar between the fairway behind the green and the rough, Goosen faced a tricky downhill right to left putt from the fringe. Several yards away O’Hern must surely have been thinking that perhaps his day had come. After all he had been able to exorcise some demons seven weeks ago when, at the Australian PGA Championship, he won for the first time in many years and answered many doubters of his capacity to win an event. This though was his chance to finally win a European Tour event, or at least appeared that way.
It became clear as soon as Goosen hit his putt that it was a big chance, if not of going in then of forcing the playoff if it nestled close to the hole. It took the full borrow in the green and fell in the left side of the hole and Goosen had won. He had gazumped O’Hern at the very last moment of the tournament.
Goosen won by one over O’Hern with Els third and Stuart Appleby, Graeme McDowell and Richard Green sharing fourth.
While no doubt disappointed at another near miss, Nick O’Hern can take solace from the fact that he did not lose the tournament but rather Goosen won. He had done little wrong over the closing stages of the tournament but rather Goosen had produced some real magic to win.
O’Hern will now focus more in the US where he will base himself in 2007. It would be nice to be going there with a European Tour win behind him but what he can take from this however is that he beat all but one of a very fine field and it took one of the world’s best players to pull out all stops to beat him.
For Goosen this would be his 14th win on the European Tour and just his second win anywhere in more than twelve months. The other had come in an Asian Tour event in China. Even when he has not been winning however Goosen has been remarkably consistent, racking up nine top tens in his last twelve starts.
Els birded the 15th and 16th and 18th and in doing so gave himself a very good chance to become the first player to win this event twice in its ten year history. Like Goosen, his consistency in every event in which he plays is remarkable and now he has removed the rust accumulated from a few weeks off out of the system, then look out for him in Dubai next week.
Stuart Appleby was a surprise visitor to Dubai and no doubt received a lot of money to be there but he gave a lot of ’bang for his buck’. He stormed through the final day without dropping a shot and by the time he had birdied the 10th hole he was at 11 under and within one of the leaders. At the 16th Appleby’s chip for eagle hit the flag and stayed out and he missed very good chances at the last two holes which would prove costly. A last round of 66 however did him a lot of good.
Richard Green will be disappointed that he was not able to go on to capitalise on such a great opportunity to win his first and only European Tour event since the Dubai Classic 1997 but as he heads to what must be one of his favourite venues next week he will be encouraged by his performance. Not only has he won in Dubai but he finished third last year.
Other Australasians included Peter O’Malley who was 16th, Michael Campbell 27th, Scott Strange 37th, Terry Pilkadaris 44th, Marcus Both 53rd, David Bransdon 62nd, Mahal Pearce 67th and Gary Simpson 70th.
The European Tour heads back down the Gulf to Dubai for this week’s Dubai Classic where amongst a very strong field will be Tiger Woods.