Goosen shares lead in Florida

2012-03-18 12:37

Florida - Ailing South African Retief Goosen birdied three of the last five holes to surge into a tie for the lead in Saturday's third round of the Transitions Championship at Palm Harbour, Florida, and keep his Masters hopes alive.

The twice former US Open champion, who has been battling a bad back since midway through last year, fired a six-under-par 65 on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook to finish level with American Jim Furyk (66) at 11-under 202.

Furyk, whose only major victory came at the 2003 US Open, was one stroke in front before he three-putted to bogey the par-four last.

South Korean Bae Sang-moon, a rookie on the 2012 PGA Tour, was a further stroke back after carding a 68, level with overnight leader Jason Dufner of the US who returned a level 71.

Goosen, however, was the surprise package of the day, having earlier pulled out of from next week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill to get further treatment on his troublesome back.

The 43-year-old, who won this event in 2003 and again in 2009, will have protein injections next week to help alleviate two bulging disks.

"My back has been the main issue since last year," Goosen told reporters. "I pulled out of the British Open and the PGA (Championship) and then took a few months off towards the end of the year.

"I was then back playing in November, December and January in South Africa but the last three weeks, it's really just started getting bad again.

"So we withdrew from Bay Hill yesterday and I'm going to get the injections done on Wednesday. Hopefully I'll be ready to get going again after the Masters, or maybe at the Masters if I play well tomorrow."

Goosen, whose most recent PGA Tour victory came at the 2009 Transitions Championship, has slipped to 52nd in the world rankings and needs to return to the top 50 on Monday to qualify for the first major of the year.

"Augusta and St. Andrews are my two favourite golf courses in the world and the Masters is not an event you want to miss," said the South African.

"I've been playing there for quite a number of years now. I'm determined to keep going."

British world No 2 Luke Donald (70) and former world No 1 Ernie Els of South Africa (68) were three strokes off the pace at eight under going into Sunday's final round.

Leading third-round scores in the US PGA Tour's $5.5 million Transitions Championship (USA unless noted, par-71):

202 - Retief Goosen (RSA) 69-68-65, Jim Furyk 66-70-66
203 - Sang-Moon Bae (KOR) 69-66-68, Jason Dufner 66-66-71
204 - John Mallinger 72-66-66, Ken Duke 68-67-69
205 - Chez Reavie 68-70-67, Ernie Els (RSA) 70-67-68, Luke Donald (ENG) 67-68-70
206 - Shaun Micheel 71-69-66, David Toms 67-72-67, Will Claxton 64-74-68, Kevin Streelman 68-69-69, Jamie Lovemark 70-67-69, Jeff Overton 68-69-69, Webb Simpson 68-69-69, Chris DiMarco 70-67-69, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 68-68-70, John Senden (AUS) 66-70-70, Padraig Harrington (IRL) 61-73-72
207 - Charley Hoffman 69-71-67, Robert Garrigus 67-72-68, Gary Woodland 68-71-68, Bo Van Pelt 70-68-69, Cameron Tringale 66-71-70, Jason Bohn 66-71-70, George McNeill 67-68-72, William McGirt 66-68-73