KIM, GOGGIN ATOP LEADERBOARD AT CLEVELAND OPEN
Westlake, OH – If anyone doubted that golf is a crazy game, they need look no farther than Saturday's rollercoaster ending to the third round of the Cleveland Open. Second-round co-leaders Mathew Goggin and Jeff Curl took turns taking the third-round lead and then giving it away when they both inexplicably four-putted one of the final two holes.
When the dust settled on a bizarre ending at the Lakewood Country Club, South Korea's Whee Kim (68) and Goggin (69) were tied for first place with 11-under 202 totals.
Local favorite Ryan Armour of nearby Akron jumped into a share of third with a 5-under 66 that put him 10 under and into Sunday's final threesome. Jason Gore (66) and Curl are also one off the pace with 18 holes to go.
Dawie van der Walt's 6-under 65 matched the best score of the day and moved the South African into a tie for sixth, two back, along with Brasil Champions winner Jon Curran (67).
Goggin, who posted a course-record 62 on Friday, relied on a stellar short game to slowly inch away from the field. A birdie putt at the par-3, 16th put him 4-under for the day and two ahead Kim and playing partner Curl.
"I drove the ball alright so I was in a pretty comfortable spot all day. I just wasn't able to hit the ball close," said the 39-year old Australian. "I didn't play terribly but when you come off a 62 and you didn't miss a shot and then hit half a dozen bad shots, you think you're the worst golfer in the world even you're playing like everyone else."
Goggin was in control at 13-under and faced a 60-foot birdie putt at the par-4, 17th. His first putt stopped only two feet from the cup. Then it happened. Suddenly.
"I pulled the next one," he said. "That's one of those putts that's going six feet by if you don't make it."
It was closer to seven feet when it stopped on the other side of the hole and then Goggin missed again.
"I thought I hit a perfect putt," he admitted. "It was right to left and I hit it right-center. The putt went right to left."
The misread cost him another shot and the resulting double bogey dropped him out of sole possession of the lead.
"The important thing is to step up on the next hole and not compound the error," said Goggin, who piped a drive right down the middle of the ever-narrowing 18th fairway. "I hit a really good tee shot and then just hit a horrible wedge shot."
Goggin's second wound up in a left, greenside bunker and his blast from the sand settled within three feet for par. While Goggin waited to tap in for par he witnessed Curl do the same thing he'd done minutes earlier – four putt.
After Goggin's double at 17, Curl suddenly found himself in the lead at 12-under par and facing an across the green, 50-foot birdie putt.
"I made a bad putt to begin with. That green is so fast," said Curl. "You cannot put the ball where I did. I didn't think enough about where to leave the putt on my second one."
Curl's initial putt slid to the right and wound up some eight feet above the hole.
"That eight was just straight glass. Downwind, downhill," said Curl. "I thought I hit it perfect. It was the exact same putt I had on 17 (for birdie). The one on 17 broke and this one didn't."
Curl pushed it his second nearly five feet past and then missed the next one coming back.
"It's called golf," he said. "We've all done it. It's not the fist time it's happened and I promise it won't be the last time."
His double bogey not only cost him the lead but it dropped him out of Sunday's final pairing.
"It sounds crazy but it's really not going to affect me, what happened there on 18," said Curl. "Heck, I'm one shot back with 18 holes to play. I like my chances."
The mistakes have given new hope to many. There are 17 players now within four shots of the lead.