Bill Nichols

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Old people are golfers too on PGA Tour

FORT WORTH _ Asked the secret to his longevity, Paul Goydos went all ancient Greek, espousing the philosophy that made Socrates and Plato major players:

``Know thyself.’’

``I think the biggest thing to be successful out here, I learned a long time ago, is know thyself, play your game,’’ Goydos said. ``You know your strengths and weaknesses and try to stay where you are comfortable playing, and I have been able to do that.’’

Old wise men have always fit in at Colonial Country Club. The storied layout places a premium on accuracy and course management. It’s one of the few places this side of Greece where power does not reign supreme.

At Hogan’s Alley, you can still be cool even if you eat supper at 5 p.m. With technology leveling the field, it’s conceivable that a 50-year-old could win on the right course. That’s where Colonial comes in.

Goydos, who turns 47 in a month, is coming off a third-place finish at the Players Championship, which boasts one of golf’s strongest fields. He has plenty of peers who have put off midlife crises to contend regularly on the PGA Tour. 

Tom Watson was 48 when he won the 1998 Colonial, his last PGA Tour victory. At 59, he lost in a playoff at the 2009 British Open.

With an off week on the Champions Tour, Colonial reached out to its former champions. Over-50 players Corey Pavin and David Frost of Dallas, Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry, Olin Browne and Fulton Allem are in the field, and they hope, in contention.

``It's such a great old golf course,’’ said Lehman, 52, who has three wins on the Champions Tour this season. ``I don't feel like it benefits anybody other than those that can hit the right shots and can have a great putter. 

``You don't need to hit super long.  You need to be pretty straight.  You need to be a good iron player and you need to be a good putter.  If you can do that this week, no matter how old you are, you are going to have a good week.’’

Pavin, a two-time winner, closed out his 40s with three straight top-18 finishes, including a tie for seventh last year. A month later, he lost in a playoff at the Travlers Championship.

Six of the last 12 Colonials have been won by players in their 40s _ Browne, Watson, Nick Price, Perry twice, and Steve Stricker.

Could the next champion be half a hundred?

``I wouldn’t be even remotely surprised,’’ Goydos said. ``I think experience helps. They played well here in the past. That’s why they are here. Their age is not going to be any kind of deterrent.’’

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