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Published: Saturday, 5/31/2008

Goggin survives tough conditions to stay in lead

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

DUBLIN, Ohio - Mathew Goggin had seven birdies during Thursday's first round of the Memorial Tournament and shot a 65. He had seven more birdies yesterday and carded an even-par 72.

One thing didn't change. He's still in the lead at Muirfield Village Golf Club, although he shares it now with two-time Memorial champion Kenny Perry.

Gusting, swirling winds were the difference from one round to the next. Goggin started his second round with three straight birdies, but then the big breeze kicked up, and he managed just five pars on his card.

"Having seven birdies again was a positive," he said. "The five bogeys and the double, well, that was probably a negative."

His standing was also a positive. Perry tied him with a 71 and both rested at 7-under 137 at the midway point. That's one stroke better than Jerry Kelly (72-138) and two better than Luke Donald (71-139). The foursome of Nick O'Hern, Matt Kuchar, Steve Lowery, and former U.S. Open winner Geoff Ogilvy finished at 140.

O'Hern, like Goggin an Australian, had an early tee time, made the turn in 32, produced a second 70 in as many days, and was happy to have the rest of the day off.

"They're going to have a lot of fun with some of those pin positions with the wind kicking up," O'Hearn said.

Fun probably wasn't the first word that came to most players' lips.

The elements produced some serious carnage. There were 21 scores of 80 or higher posted (Nick Watney went 68-80), and the field's stroke average was 75.8 yesterday. Only two sub-70 rounds were posted as Johnson Wagner closed with three straight birdies for a remarkable 67, and J.B. Holmes, a good wind player, managed a 69.

Wagner's effort came with a big reward - the 2008 Houston Open winner started the day tied for 105th and ended it tied for 22nd.

Goggin started off hot and got to minus-11, then held on from there.

"I holed about a 20-footer from off the front of the green on the first hole," Goggin, playing in the Memorial for the first time, said. "I holed about a 25-footer at the next, then a 15-footer. I looked over at Jerry [Kelly] and shook my head. It was ridiculous. But then it got windier and windier and got tougher and tougher. Not having the experience on this golf course, I made a few mental mistakes and misjudged some things."

Other than Roger Maltbie, who won the inaugural Memorial in 1976, no player has ever won this tournament in their first appearance at Muirfield Village. Ernie Els (2004) is the only first-round leader in Memorial history who went on to win.

Goggin has led in three other tournaments during his career but finished no better than a tie for 19th in any of those.

So, obviously, he has some historical trends to buck entering weekend play.

Yesterday's high winds were the harbinger of storms expected overnight and into morning. In anticipation, PGA Tour officials announced that today's third round would begin at 10:45 a.m. with the leaders going off at 12:45. The field will play in threesomes with a two-tee start.

Perry will join Goggin in the final group off No. 1, a bit of a surprise considering how the veteran's second round began. Starting on the back nine, he scored bogeys on three of his first five holes. Then he eagled the par-5 15th hole after pulling his second shot into the rough short and left of the green.

"I had a lot of green and knew I could chip the ball down there, keep it on the green, and get it within maybe 15 feet for a

realistic birdie putt," he said. "And it just came out perfect and rolled right in.

"I played OK from then on. But it was brutal out there. You put slick conditions with 20-mile-per-hour winds, it's hard to pick a club. You had to have a lot of patience. It was a day when you knew there would be a lot of high scores."

Pretournament favorites Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia had a couple of them, carding 75 and 77, respectively. Both made the cut. Ernie Els did not after a 78.



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