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Goosen readies for PGA with victory at International
by Associated Press

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (AP) - At this tournament, a big number on a Sunday was something to savor for Retief Goosen.

The Goose overcame Brandt Jobe down the stretch and outlasted the rest of the field over 36 grueling holes to win the International and become the last of the Big Five to make it into the win column this season.

Goosen scored 15 points over the final two rounds to finish with 32, one better than Jobe, in the modified Stableford scoring system, which awards five points for eagles, two for birdies, none for pars and deducts one for bogeys.

Goosen earned $900,000 for the win and got the perfect boost into next week's PGA Championship, the season's final major.

"I'm feeling great, but I'm tired," Goosen said. "We started limping on the back nine and the last couple holes, I just told myself to make some good swings."

Jeff Brehaut opened the final round with four straight birdies to get in contention and finished third with 29 points. Big-hitting Hank Kuehne was fourth and Charles Howell finished fifth.

Although Goosen has played well enough to be ranked fifth in the world, his year so far has been defined by final-round failures in the majors.

First, there was the 81 at Pinehurst that turned what looked like a coronation for his third U.S. Open title into an 11th-place finish. Four weeks later, he shot 74 in the final round of the British Open, hardly challenging Tiger Woods in his march to that title.

The competition was nowhere near as stiff in this one - Phil Mickelson was the only other member of the Big Five who played - but there was nothing easy about this day.

The first 36-hole finish on tour since September 2003 - this one played at mile-high altitude on the hilly, 7,619-yard Castle Pines course - really did turn into a complete mental and physical test.

"It felt like a marathon," said Jobe, who only had time to change shirts, eat half a sandwich and rush back onto the course after the third round. "It didn't have a lot of feel to it and I'm a player who likes to play on feel."

Indeed, as the day wore on, the shotmaking suffered.

It forced Goosen to put his typically methodical spin on what is often one of the more exciting events on tour. He hit safely into the par-5 17th green for a two-putt birdie, then saved par on No. 18 with a 4-foot putt after hitting his approach into the second cut of fringe.

Jobe, meanwhile was all over the place.

He could have won the tournament with a birdie on 18, but his chances were hurt when he teed off into the rough. His second shot landed 30 feet away from the cup and when he left the birdie putt short, he put his hand on his hip and looked down, bemoaning the great opportunity lost.

"It was a great week and it was awesome to be here," Jobe said. "I'd just like to have that front nine over."

Jobe made four straight birdies - three to close his third round and one to start his fourth - to take a nine-point lead early in the afternoon. But he closed with four bogeys and one double bogey over the last 17 holes to wind up short of his first win on the PGA Tour.

Lowlights included a shot he had to hit left-handed near a tree by the eighth green.

He also sculled shot from a greenside bunker on No. 4 onto the fifth teebox. After he chunked the recovery shot into a stand of trees, Jobe quit that hole - opting for the so-called "Castle Pines pickup" that players can make if they can't salvage a bogey; the worst a player can do under the scoring system is a minus-three for double bogey or worse.

Goosen teed off into the rough on four of the final nine holes, but made six pars, two bogeys and one birdie to hang on for his sixth career win on the PGA Tour and first this season. Ernie Els, another member of the Big Five, hasn't won yet on PGA Tour this season, but he has won three times in Europe.

Maybe Goosen's best shot of the day was a simple recovery from deep grass on the par-3 16th after a terrible tee shot left him about 40 yards from the hole. Goosen pitched out to 4 feet, saved par and maintained a one-point lead.

While the finish for Jobe may have been disappointing, Brehaut wouldn't say the same. He earned $340,000 for this, his second straight top-10 finish, meaning he has almost certainly averted an 11th career trip to Q-school in the upcoming offseason.

Howell carried 25 points into the 17th hole, leaving himself an eagle and a birdie away from tying Goosen. He just missed his eagle putt on 17, though, and wound up fifth.

Mickelson also teased the crowd, staying in striking range throughout the long day. He missed 21 putts inside 10 feet over the 72 holes, though, and wound up with 23 points, tied for 10th.


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