Retief Goosen defied the odds at every turn Sunday in golf’s Tour Championship.
No one makes birdie on the 481-yard 16th hole, especially not from the rough. Goosen smoked a five-iron from 195 yards that dropped in front of the flag and stopped three feet away.
And no one comes from four shots behind Tiger Woods in the final round to win.
“We all thought he was going to be the guy to beat,” Goosen said.
In a fitting finale to the PGA Tour season, Goosen was unflappable as ever in closing with a bogey-free 64 to win the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club by four shots and become only the third player to overtake Woods in the final round. It was the best final round by a winner in the event’s 18-year history.
“He did absolutely everything he needed to do -- posted a number, and hopefully it would be good enough,” Woods said. “And it was.”
Woods and Jay Haas helped the cause. In a rare collapse, Woods bogeyed three of his first seven holes to give the rest of the field hope. Then, he couldn’t keep up with Goosen down the stretch and closed with a two-over 72 to finish second. Haas, at 50 the oldest player ever in the Tour Championship, stumbled down the stretch and shot 75.
Goosen finished at 11-under 269 and earned $1.08 million.
Woods, who had won 14 consecutive times when he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead, had his streak end in a familiar place.
The last time Woods lost when leading on Sunday was at East Lake in the 2000 Tour Championship. The only other time that happened was to Ed Fiori in the 1996 Quad City Classic, Woods’ third pro start.
“Very disappointing,” Woods said. “I felt like I had a golden opportunity to win a tournament.”
Woods ends the season with only one victory -- the Match Play Championship in late February -- to match his lowest output in his nine years on tour. He also won only once in 1998. He now has gone 20 stroke-play tournaments without a trophy, the longest drought of his career.
“It was a very successful week as far as progressing in the right direction,” Woods said. “But ultimately, it was disappointing.”