By Dave Shedloski
Paul Goydos knows how quickly a golf game can come and go.
Winner of the 1996 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, Goydos nearly aced the arduous par-3 17th hole Thursday in the opening round. A 3-iron from 220 yards stopped just two feet short of the cup, and he tapped in a for a birdie.
“It was almost perfect club. Two feet more would have done it,” quipped Goydos, who then followed up with a weak drive of just 204 yards into the left rough that resulted in a bogey. He ended up carding a 2-under-par 70, his best start in relation to par at Bay Hill Club since 2001.
“I went from the exact shot I was trying to hit to the exact opposite shot I was trying to hit within the span of two swings, but that’s golf,” Goydos shrugged.
This is golf, too: Goydos, after consecutive top-5 finishes earlier this year, had somehow lost his mojo. Coming into the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he had shot 9 over par in each of his last two starts at the Honda Classic and Transitions Championship to miss the cut.
“It’s my lowest score in Florida in relation to par by four shots, so it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Goydos, 45, of Dove Canyon, California, who has twice won on the PGA TOUR.
“The wind picked up a little bit late, but considering how the weather has been on the PGA TOUR, this is the best weather since Hawaii (Sony Open), in my opinion,” Goydos added with a grin. “At least I got in before then, and made a score.”
Not one of the game’s longer hitters, Goydos has to rely on accuracy off the tee and on the greens to score, and he did both Thursday, hitting 10 of 14 fairways and needing just 27 putts. That stopped a streak of six rounds over par.
“Considering how I’ve been playing, this was encouraging,” he said. “At some point you have to get a bounce. I’ve been down at the bottom of the pond, and hopefully I’m starting to swim back to the surface.”