Johnson, Goydos tied for the lead
AP Golf Writer
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) – Dustin Johnson and Paul Goydos could not be any more different, which is why it was so odd to see them atop the leaderboard Saturday at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with identical scores.
On their birth certificates, Goydos is 20 years older. On the tee, Johnson is 48 yards longer.
Johnson is tall and athletic. Goydos is … not.
They played with the gifts they have, and they used them brilliantly on a gorgeous afternoon that gives Pebble Beach such iconic status as America’s most famous seaside course.
Johnson overpowered Spyglass Hill for an 8-under 64 that included two eagles. Goydos poked his way along the splendid coastline of Pebble Beach and birdied two of the last three holes for an 8-under 64.
Nothing separated them on the scoreboard, which is all that matters. They were at 18-under 196, four shots clear of anyone else heading into the final round.
“His game is a little different from mine,” said Johnson, who will try to become only the fifth back-to-back winner of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and the first in 20 years. “And he finds a way to get it done.”
Johnson began his round at Spyglass Hill with a 343-yard drive, leaving him a hybrid for his second shot on the 595-yard hole. It rolled past the pin, and he made a 20-foot eagle from the fringe.
Goydos ripped a 268-yard drive on the par-5 second hole at Pebble Beach, leaving him a 3-wood into the 513-yard hole that he hit to 8 feet for an eagle.
Two questions to each player spoke volumes about how different they play.
Goydos was asked if he will simply ignore how far Johnson hits the ball off the tee.
“No, I fully panic,” Goydos said. “You know, it is what it is. I don’t know if ‘ignore’ is the right word, but you appreciate. I’m going to appreciate his play, but you go out and play your game, too. I have do things differently than he does, and he’s got to do things differently than I do.”
Johnson was asked which course plays long for him. His answer came through a fixed smile.
“Not too many of ’em,” he said.
Even so, the 25-year-old Johnson, emerging as one of the top young American stars, is not about to take Goydos lightly.
“It doesn’t matter how far you hit it or where you hit it,” Johnson said. “You’ve just got to find a way to get it in the hole. Whoever can get it in the hole tomorrow is going to come out with the victory.”
J.B. Holmes and Bryce Molder each had a 68 at Spyglass Hill, while Matt Jones had a 66 on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula. They were tied for third at 14-under 200.
David Duval had a 67 and was tied for seventh. Phil Mickelson had a 69 at Pebble Beach and was eight shots out of the lead.
The biggest star Saturday was the weather, some of the most spectacular conditions this tournament has seen in years. Along the coast of Pebble Beach, huge swells crashed against the rocks and the sea wall.
“The ocean was angry today,” Goydos said. “What they’ve got here is God’s gift to golf.”
Goydos’ game isn’t always so pretty, although there is no disputing how he reached the top of the leaderboard. On the par-5 sixth hole, his second shot from the rough barely cleared the hill and nearly went into a bunker. With an awkward stance, he did well to get it on the green. And after a two-putt par, he said to his partners, “That never looked like it was going to be better than a 5.”
One hole later, with a stiff ocean breeze at his back and a downhill shot to a green 97 yards away, he hit sand wedge to 2 feet.
Over at Spyglass, traditionally the toughest course on the rotation, Johnson was whaling away. The defending champion had two eagles and played the par 5s in 6 under, and he had a chance at the course record of 62 until charging his birdie putt past the hole and missing the comeback putt for par.
“Length is not an issue,” Johnson said. “Doesn’t play very long for me. If I’m hitting it in the fairway, then it definitely plays right into my hands, because I can get to all the par 5s there.”
On this glorious day with a stiff breeze, Spyglass was the place to be. Pebble Beach and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula, a par 70 and newcomer to the rotation, are exposed along the ocean. Except for five holes, Spyglass is sheltered by pines and cypress.
Johnson and Goydos couldn’t recall playing with each other before, and even if they did, it’s not like they would have been together given the difference in their tee shots.
Goydos paused when asked if he considered Johnson to be a better player.
“He’s won twice in two years. I’ve won twice in 18,” Goydos said. “‘Better’ is an interesting word. He’s definitely off to a much better start than I had. There’s a slight curve because I’ve been out so long. So if he’d won 10 times after 18 years, the answer is ‘yes.’ But right now? I don’t know.”
Then he paused once more before adding, “He’s definitely showing signs of it.”
Divots: Goydos and Hertz executive Bob Stuart had a one-shot lead in the pro-am competition. The top 25 teams advanced to the final round Sunday. … Johnson or Goydos only need to break par on Sunday to break the 72-hole scoring record of 268, first set by Mark O’Meara in 1997 and matched by Phil Mickelson in 2007. … Adam Scott made a hole-in-one at the par-3 seventh at Monterey Peninsula and shot 64.