A successful 30-foot putt for birdie at the 18th of Riviera Country Club gave Retief Goosen a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the Northern Trust Open.
“Yeah that was a pretty good bonus. Wasn’t a very good shot in there with a sand wedge into the green, but it’s a tough hole there. Any time I birdie on that hole is good,” he said.
The two-time major champion has battled with back injury over the last few years and was excited to be back at the top of the leaderboard. He reached the halfway mark on six-under-par, one shot clear of Graham DeLaet, Ryan Moore and Justin Thomas.
“You know, it’s been such a long time since I’ve last been in contention,” said Goosen. “Who knows how my game is going to hold up, but I’m feeling good. My back’s feeling great. So if the nerves can hold, just continue to make good golf swings and make a few good putts, who knows.”
The Goose hit some loose shots at Riviera on Friday, but he managed to avoid most of the trouble and made six out of eight par saves.
“I didn’t hit the ball as good as I hit it yesterday definitely. Today was a little bit scrambling with everything really but I got it up‑and‑down quite a few times, and that kept the round going,” he said.
There are still two rounds to come and the 46-year-old will be keen to test his ability to contend.
“I’m excited, you know, to be up there again, fighting for the lead a little bit. And then, yeah, at the last minute, managed to get a birdie. I struggled, but I was fighting. I was working hard out there, keeping my score together and hopefully this weekend it’s going to be the same. It’s going to be a grind out there. It’s not going to be easygoing, but I’m looking forward to it,” he said.