Date: March 20, 2009
Author: PA Sport

Goggin off to a good start

Jim Furyk followed up his third place finish in last week&aposs WGC-CA Championship by taking the lead at the Transitions Championship at the Innisbrook Resort in Florida, with Australian Mathew Goggin two shots back in a tie for third. Goggin enjoyed a bogey-free four-under par round to rise to equal third, two shots behind Furyk. Compatriot Nathan Green also started well to be in a tie for sixth at three-under, while Steve Elkington and Nick O&aposHern are also in the hunt at two-under. Without a win for over 18 months Furyk grabbed seven birdies on the demanding Copperhead course before dropping his only stroke two holes from home. Another bogey was a distinct possibility at the last – actually the 430-yard ninth – when he was bunkered in two and splashed out to 10 feet, but the 38-year-old world number 11 rolled in the putt for a six under par 65. Canadian Stephen Ames ended the day alone in second place one behind and joint third on four under are Americans Kenny Perry and Jonathan Byrd and Goggin. Teenage Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa, who missed the cut on his PGA Tour debut in Los Angeles last month, is only four shots back. Furyk&aposs round was his sixth in a row in the 60s and comes after one of the longest breaks of his career. “I&aposm obviously very happy and I think the key really was I putted very well – I had 25 putts and 11 on the back nine, my first side,” he said. “Obviously you don&apost want to go out bogeying the last two. It would have been a disappointing feel after playing so well for the first 16 holes, so I felt good about knocking that putt in.” “I felt like I played a lot last year. I was tired, I needed some time off and I just wanted to have a good holiday with my family and I did.” “I was a little nervous about being rusty, but I seem to get back into it pretty quick.” “I played too much golf last year and just mentally was not in the right frame of mind of where I wanted to be. I wasn&apost excited about coming to the golf course, so it was time to put them away for a while and now I&aposm back in a much better frame of mind.” “I think the glaring weakness for me is that I&aposm very average length. I don&apost hit the ball that far. Most of the guys I play with hit it past me, so my strengths have to be in other things and I have to beat those guys in other areas.” “I would hope the last 15 years proved that you don&apost have to be long to be good. I don&apost go to a lot of golf courses where I feel it&aposs just a bomber&aposs paradise and I&aposm at a severe disadvantage.” Meanwhile, on the European Tour an opening five-under-par 66 from Joakim Haeggman at the Madeira Islands Open BPI-Portugal at Porto Santo was a big step towards re-establishing himself. It left him sharing the lead with Irishman Damien McGrane, who holed a bunker shot at the last for his seventh birdie of the day. Scott Barr is the best of the Australian contingent in a tie for 65th at four-over.