Palm Harbor, Fla. -- Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, tied for the lead in the Transitions Championship but not yet in the field for the Masters, is taking his last shot at getting into the year's first major championship this week before taking a few more shots next Wednesday in his lower back to alleviate the pain of a bulging L3 disc.
"It's bulging in two places," says Goosen, who is tied with Jim Furyk at 11 under par. "Yeah, it's not good. The last three weeks it really just started getting bad again. So, we decided to call it a day. We withdrew from Bay Hill and I'm going to get the injections done. So, hopefully I'll be ready to get going again after the Masters, or maybe the Masters if I play well tomorrow."
Even though he managed to finish 108th on the money list last year, Goosen played in considerable pain from the start of the season on, at times bad enough to make his left leg go numb. It got worse at the British Open at Royal St. George's where he had to withdraw and also forced him out of PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club after one round. Goosen's back flared up three weeks ago after kicking a soccer ball around with his son, Leo.
Goosen is 52nd in the World Rankings and players inside the top 50 after the Arnold Palmer Invitational qualify for Augusta. Of course, if Goosen wins in Tampa he'd be in, too. If he doesn't he'll have to gain enough ranking spots and hope to hold on while he travels to Virginia Beach, Va., for the injections. The procedure, the same one undergone by Vijay Singh and Fred Couples, involves blood spinning and re-injecting the patient's own enriched plasma into the afflicted area to aid healing.
-- Jim Moriarty