SONY OPEN IN HAWAII
Goydos made all the right calls at the Sony Open
The 42-year-old journeyman is back in the winner's circle
Paul Goydos had just finished his Sunday session with the media when he remembered he still had one call to make before leaving the Sony Open in Hawaii behind him for Palm Springs, Calif., the next stop on the PGA Tour.
His two teenaged daughters, one the same age as Tadd Fujikawa, were waiting to hear from dear old dad and how he had bested two of the world's most promising players at windy Waialae Country Club.
After being upstaged by a local youngster who handled himself like a man, Goydos made a phone call the old-fashioned way -- he used a tour landline at the back of the room. Staying with an aunt and uncle only 5 minutes away from his Dove Canyon, Calif., home, Goydos gave them all the details possible in a short long-distance connection.
The 42-year-old journeyman went 256 events that stretched over 10 years, nine months and 28 days between his 1996 victory at Bay Hill and his second trip to the winner's circle late Sunday afternoon. You can only imagine how proud his kids must be. And you get the feeling he hopes they meet someone like Fujikawa somewhere down their own road.
Goydos understood from the beginning that he was playing second fiddle to Fujikawa. There were only a few tour aficionados who knew Goydos' own success story; how he finished in a tie for second in the last full-field tour event of 2006 that allowed him to keep his card uncontested.
Now, he has a two-year exemption, which is nice when you're 42 and not in the same first-class flight plan as fellow 40-somethings Vijay Singh and David Toms. The old guys are off to a good start with Singh and Goydos atop the early FedExCup leaderboard while the 20-somethings keep getting in their own way.
As intriguing as Fujikawa was for the national scene, equally interesting for tour followers is how the younger set is still trying to find its swings. Luke Donald and Charles Howell III want to be thought of as legitimate contenders every time they step on a course.
Howell is one of those whippet bombers who hit it as far as they can, find it and hit it as far as they can again. Risk, reward has its place on many of the world's younger golf courses, but Waialae is better-tuned for the older set, who get the idea of how to play a dogleg in the trades.
Donald is better-suited for this course that rewards fairways and greens with birdies and pars. Despite holding the lead in the first and second rounds, the 29-year-old Englishman, who has lived predominantly in the States the last 10 years, couldn't get it together down the stretch.
As they made the turn for home on Sunday, Goydos took a four-shot deficit and made it into a one-stroke victory in a matter of 2 hours, and now he was heading home to his family with a trophy, $936,000 and some security you can only earn on tour by finishing first. For Goydos, it's fleeting.
Upon hanging up the phone, the substitute teacher, who gave up that day job in 1992 after winning the Yuma Open, knew an empty locker room and a change of clothes was all that awaited him. By now, the other competitors were gone; even Fujikawa, who would have spent a week in the caddy shack had someone let him, had said goodbye to Waialae.
"It probably will sink in later on," Goydos said.
"I was hoping to get some sleep on this flight and I have a bad feeling that ain't going to happen. The excitement I get out of golf about winning, in a sense, ended on the 18th green. The exciting part about what we do is doing it, not basking in the glory of what we did."
Then he spoke of the kindred spirit he has at Waialae, the way you have to play her if you want to have success. She gave him three birdies over the final four holes and that proved to be Donald's and Howell's undoing.
"What excites me is testing myself, going out and playing the game," Goydos said. "Especially, I think, this golf course is very challenging. You have a lot of different things you have to do out here. That to me is the high you get from winning the competition per se, not the interviews and not the people shaking your hands. Those things are nice, but that's not what really gets my juices flowing."
Goydos preferred to heap the praise on mighty Fujikawa and his improbable run that attracted overflowing crowds on the weekend. He saw a deserving Moanalua High School sophomore taking it all in.
"What, 16 years old, he shot 5 under, where did he finish, top 20?" Goydos asked. "I certainly wasn't going to finish 5 under at the Sony Open when I was 16 years old. That wasn't going to happen. I think the future is going to be bright for the kid."
And said like a true father, "And the nice thing, from what I can tell, he's a really good kid and a really nice person. That's really what's important. He should be very, very proud and his parents should be very, very proud of him."
For Fujikawa, reality will hit home today as he returns to school and all that means for someone his age. He gave life to a tournament badly in need of one and never assumed it was all about him. Goydos can appreciate that sentiment as well as anyone. He has his own reality to face. In his last two tournaments, he has won more money than 2005 and 2006 combined.
How long will it last? That's the beauty of the tour. It allows guys like Goydos and Fujikawa to play alongside guys like Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. As long as it lasts. No other sport offers this foursome. The Sony Open showcased it best. Now, for Goydos, it's back to work at what the players simply call, the Hope. Congratulations await. FedExCup points to collect. Kids to call home to when the day is done.