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Retief Goosen eagles 1st, wins Hoag Classic by 4 strokes

March 7, 2022 GMT

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Retief Goosen holed out for eagle from a greenside bunker on the short par-4 first hole, birdied the next two and cruised to an 8-under 63 and a four-stroke victory Sunday in the Hoag Classic.

A stroke behind fellow South African star Ernie Els entering the round, Goosen pulled away quickly at Newport Beach Country Club in breezy but calmer conditions than the players faced Saturday.

After hitting his opening drive into the left bunker, Goosen’s long blast hit the flagstick and dropped in the cup without touching the green.

“You had to fly it over that ridge,” Goosen said. “So, my main goal was to obviously land it up there as far as I can and I was thinking if I hit a good shot, it will probably finish 5 feet past the hole.

“It just came out a little hotter than I expected and hit the flag and went straight in. It was very, very lucky. Whenever you hit a flag it could go anywhere, it could have come back off the green.”

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He had an awkward stance in the bunker.

“I was up against the left lip,” Goosen said. “It was awkward. The ball was well below my feet although I was standing in an uphill lie. It wasn’t an easy one to get comfortable on. As I say, yeah, it just came out a little hot.”

Goosen finished at 15-under 198. Coming off offseason shoulder surgery, the two-time U.S. Open champion won for the second time on the 50-and-over tour. He also won the 2019 Senior Players.

Goosen followed the early 4-under burst with a birdie on the par-4 sixth. He birdied the par-3 10th, rebounded from a bogey on the par-4 11th with birdies on the par-4 12th and par-5 15h and finished with 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th.

K.J. Choi was second after a 66.

“I was keeping my eye on K.J. in front of me,” Goosen said. “I was watching him making birdies, so I knew I had to keep making birdies myself.”

Lee Janzen (69) and Stephen Ames (67) tied for third at 9 under. Doug Barron and Tim Petrovic each shot 67 to finish at 7 under.

Els was sixth at 6 under after a 73. He won the event in 2020 the last time it was played.

The final group featured three two-time U.S. Open champions in Goosen, Els and Janzen.

“We had a great vibe between the three of us today on the course,” Goosen said.

Bernhard Langer closed with a 70 to tie for eighth at 5 under. The 64-year-old German star, the 2008 winner, won the Chubb Classic two weeks ago in Florida for his 43rd senior title, two behind Hale Irwin for the tour record. Langer is the oldest winner in tour history.