26 Jun 2024 | Professional golf | Tournaments | Golf Australia |

Goggin trading major works for major golf

by Jimmy Emanuel

Mat Goggin

When Mat Goggin’s name is mentioned in golf circles these days, it often relates to the Seven Mile Beach golf course the former PGA TOUR regular is building near Hobart.

However, this week the Tasmanian local will be back to his “real job”, with Goggin turning 50 on June 13 and successfully pre-qualifying for the US Senior Open at historic Newport Country Club.

One of eight Australians in the field, Goggin’s chances are buoyed by his recent play at home on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia, including a third behind Order of Merit champion Kazuma Kobori at the Webex Players Series Victoria.

His place as one of the “young guys” on the over-50s PGA TOUR Champions circuit also makes him one of the longer players in Rhode Island this week.

“Most of the guys are still hanging in there pretty well but I’ve always been relatively long so I’m still up there. I wouldn’t say I’m one of the shorter guys that’s for sure,” Goggin told Australian media on Wednesday.

Believing his multiple injuries that curtailed regular appearances in the latter part of his regular Tour career has him refreshed and ready to go, Goggin is thriving in the familiarity of the names and faces playing the senior game.

Experiencing the question of “What are you doing here?” from the likes of Ernie Els this week that are common place for each over-50s debutant, Goggin is joined in the field by Stuart Appleby, Greg Chalmers, Richard Green, Mark Hensby, Rod Pampling, Cameron Percy and Michael Wright.

It is a cohort of Australians he is far more familiar with than those at home when making his occasional competitive appearances to sharpen his game for the second career of senior golf.

“It’s kind of funny. I’ve been playing a few events down in Australia, I literally don’t know anyone. Everyone’s like 21, 22, 23, there’s no old guys,” he said.

“It’s kind of funny to come out here… it feels like a time capsule.

“I played a practice round with ‘Apples’ (Stuart Appleby) today, I think I’m going to play with ‘Wrighty’ (Michael Wright) tomorrow and then I’ve seen (Greg) Chalmers and Richard Green. I saw a whole bunch of the guys, so it’s good to see them again.”

Reflecting on playing with the “kids” of the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia, Goggin noted his third place at Rosebud as “what we love and what we hate” as a professional golfer.

The one-time world No.48 instantly admits that near misses never fade completely from memory, including playing in the final group at The Open alongside Tom Watson in 2009 where he finished fifth.

“The British Open, I think about that all the time still because it would’ve had such a huge impact on my career,” he said.

“It’s the great opportunities that you lose that keep you up at night and do forever.”

Excited at the prospect of competing once again at a level where he might have the advantage of relative youth, Goggin knows like that week, that a win at Newport would greatly change his future plans.

However, even when preparing for a senior major, the future of his other work is never far from mind.

Goggin revealed the hope to open a loop of holes at Seven Mile Beach in November this year, while is also in the final stages of a council application to build a second golf course on the site.

“When I go to Hobart, it’s basically just flat-out meetings after meetings for Seven Mile Beach and then I’m always waking up to a few emails,” Goggin said of his time spent at his US base in North Carolina.

“Actually, the most stressful part of my day is about 5am when I first check the phone, just waiting to see all the flood of emails from Hobart. Then there’s a quick panic about stuff I’ve got to do, but then realising there’s not much I can do about it now because it’s 10 o’clock at night in Hobart.”

Switching off that course builder part of his brain and focusing only on competing will be a unique challenge for Goggin amongst a stacked field of Hall of Famers this week.

Yet his intimidate knowledge of course design could help around one of the original five USGA member clubs where Goggin’s links golf career highlight and power could be significant assets.

“It’s very much like UK golf. It’s not really a links golf course, but it has the same feeling across the land,” he said of Newport. “It’s not dissimilar to the Mornington Peninsula in a lot of respects in the way that the hills sort of flow.

“There’s a lot of 430, 420-metre par-4s. We played a couple yesterday into the westerly breeze and it was four straight 4-irons – and I’m one of the longer players – into four holes.

“There were guys hitting woods into a lot of holes, which is pretty crazy.

“I’m sure they might adjust that coming into the tournament, but if it gets windy it’s going to be tricky.”

The US Senior Open is live on Fox Sports, available on Foxtel and Kayo.

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