INSIDE THE ROPES TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP
By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
The PGA Tour has few personalities like Paul Goydos and the good news is that he is back, with plans to stick around for a while. Goydos, who will turn 49 on Friday, returned two weeks ago in the FedEx St. Jude Classic after missing nearly 16 months because of surgeries on his left hand and wrist. He’s in the field again this week for the Travelers Championship. And his life is getting back to normal.
“It’s been weird being home for 16 months,” Goydos said in an interview at Insiders Hangout, a PGA Tour site at YouTube. “My kids finally said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to go start playing golf again. We’re getting tired of you.’ “No one ever comes back from an injury too late, they always come back too soon. You have to stay focused on the target to be healthy, go play and be competitive. With all due respect, this isn’t the club championship at my local course on a Saturday. I’m trying to beat Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. I need to be ready physically to go and play.” Even though he was not satisfied, Goydos did reasonably well all things considered despite missing the cut in the St. Jude, shooting 73-72 — 145 to fall four strokes short of playing on the weekend. And he stuck it out to the finish despite soreness that developed in his left hand in round one and required physical therapy afterward.
“Hand was sore today but didn’t get any worse as the day went,” Goydos wrote on Twitter after the second round. “Pretty disappointed with how I finished. … Didn’t hit it good enough to be competitive on a course playing as difficult as Southwind.” Goydos hadn’t played on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Northern Trust Open in February of last year, deciding it was time to take care of his left hand and wrist, which have bothered him for years. First, he had a bone spur that was irritating a tendon removed from his left wrist in March of 2012. Then in October, he underwent another procedure to remove a bone spur from his left index finger. “Once I did all the rehab after hand surgery, after all the procedures, I just had to go out and play and practice, and I did that with my friends,” said Goydos, whose victories on the PGA Tour came in the 1996 Bay Hill (now the Arnold Palmer) Invitational and the 2007 Sony Open in Hawaii. ” … I was a pretty solid 3-handicapper up until a couple of months ago. I was doing pretty well and I think I could have come back sooner, but not been anywhere near competitive. I’m in position to know where I am in order to be able to get better moving forward.”
Goydos, who was nicknamed “Sunshine,” by fellow pro Jeff Sluman “because of his ability to find the dark cloud in every silver lining,” did some television work during his absence from the PGA Tour, and the Champions Tour beckons next year. However, he’s content with where he is right now. “I watched the Champions Tour (on television during his hiatus) and unfortunately for me those guys play pretty well, too,” said Goydos, who is one of five players on the PGA Tour to shoot 59, doing so in the first round of the 2010 John Deere Classic. “Fred Couples comes over and is competitive on the regular tour; those guys can really play. John Cook came over and finished third in (in the 2011 Mayakoba Classic) at 52 or 53. The Champions Tour is great, but my goal is to play the PGA Tour as long as I can. I have a medical extension until next year. It’s hard enough trying to get ready for the regular tour and that’s where my focus is.” Goydos appeared on the Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show and did other media work during his absence from the PGA Tour, showing that he is a natural with his everyman’s demeanor and dry sense of humor. There’s a broadcasting job out there somewhere with his name on it, if he wants it. “I would rather play golf than talk about golf,” said Goydos, a graduate of Long Beach State who in the past has worn the “Dirtbags” hat that honors the school’s baseball team. “If something happens (that he can’t play) and the opportunity is there, I will explore that option. But right now, my focus is on golf, to be competitive and see how long I can do this ” … My whole adult life, I’ve been on summer vacation, playing golf every day. I enjoy doing that, and with Champions Tour you can do that into your 60s if you stay in shape and keep your game competitive.” Starting this week at the Travelers, in which he tied for second in 2009, Goydos has 20 starts remaining on his Major Medical Extension to earn $590,290 and retain his playing status. Not only does he need it but the PGA Tour, accused of having so many clones, needs it too.