CASTLE ROCK - After a marathon Sunday, Retief Goosen was the last man standing. The world’s fifth-ranked player steadily moved up the leaderboard during his first 27 holes, then had to grind through the final nine to finish with 32 points — one ahead of Brandt Jobe and three more than Jeff Brehaut. Goosen’s first tournament title this season paid him $900,000. “I got off to a very good start this morning,” Goosen said. “Then started off well again this afternoon, but on the back nine I think everybody was starting to feel it and fall apart a little bit.” Typically, there is a flurry at the finish of The International, with the modified Stableford scoring system encouraging — demanding — players to be aggressive and rack up point-producing birdies and eagles in the final round. But this year was different. Rain that forced the cancellation of play Thursday necessitated 36 holes Sunday. Thirty-six hilly holes. In the heat. And thin air. So instead of final day fireworks, Sunday became more about survival. And in the afternoon, The International started to look more like the U.S. Open. Goosen, who took the lead with a pair of birdies just before making the turn in his fourth round, made two bogeys, a birdie and six pars on the back. He had to get up and down three times for par on the final four holes — including the 18th. “My gosh, in the last sort of six holes I was starting to feel it a little bit,” Goosen said. “Your legs just sort of suddenly start feeling like jelly. I suppose it’s like when you run a marathon.” Jobe, playing in the group behind Goosen, watched from the 18th fairway as the South African finished his round with a par-saving putt from just over 3 feet. With 31 points, Jobe needed a birdie to vault into the lead. But after putting his approach shot to 31 feet, his chance for a birdie — and first career PGA Tour victory — finished 3 feet short of the hole. Jobe appeared to be in control of the tournament after a 12-point third round gave him a nine-point advantage. His first 18 holes of the day included six birdies and an eagle, when he holed out from 161 yards on the 18th — his ninth hole of the day. His final round started with a birdie at the par-5 first but quickly unraveled with three bogeys and a double bogey in the next seven holes. “It’s like I got out there on the front nine and it caught up with me,” he said. As Jobe was giving points back to the field, Goosen made his move. He started the final round with 25 points — nine fewer than Jobe — but made birdies at the first and third holes and followed a bogey on No. 7 with birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 to take the lead. Then he held on. Brehaut and Hank Kuehne, who finished fourth with 27 points, made big moves in the fourth round, scoring 10 points apiece. Fan favorites Phil Mickelson and Charles Howell III both started the day within striking distance of the lead, but their tournament hopes were derailed by poor third rounds — Mickelson lost three points and Howell lost four. Both bounced back in the final round but already had lost too much ground. Howell finished in fifth place with 26 points while Mickelson tied for 10th with 23. After the first 18, Goosen said, he told his caddie that he thought he would need 36 points to win the tournament. But on the last nine holes, points were suddenly hard to come by. “I think everybody just got tired towards the end,” he said. “The course started to play totally different than what it did the first few days, and the greens were hard and crusty, and there was a bit of breeze out there this afternoon. . . . I was very surprised that I won at 32.” Goosen, along with most of the field at The International, now will set his sights on this week’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. Before coming to Castle Pines Golf Club, it had been a frustrating year for Goosen, tormented by a final-round collapse at the U.S. Open — a tournament he led after three rounds and has won twice. “At some point I was sort of wondering where my golf was going,” Goosen said. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0365 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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