Goggin sheds obscurity tag

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

OAKVILLE -- In lingo more familiar to his thoroughbred training father, the finish line just wouldn't come soon enough for Mathew Goggin this past weekend.

For much of the final round of the British Open, Goggin graciously played the role of best supporting actor, paired with 59-year-old Tom Watson in his starring and ultimately tragic performance.

But for a couple of bad steps coming for home, the personable Aussie may have joined Watson and eventual winner Stewart Cink in a playoff to claim the Claret Jug, but instead had to settle for a tie for fifth, two strokes back.

With a day to battle jet lag and relive what might have been, Goggin was at Glen Abbey at noon yesterday to prepare for this week's Canadian Open.

"Obviously, playing in the last group of a major is an extreme situation," Goggin said.

"Still, hanging around and having a chance to win with four holes to play ... I'm pretty proud of the fact that I didn't disappear quicker off the leaderboard which I'm sure most people expected."

Such assumptions come with the territory when you are a 36-year-old pro who had never seriously contended for a major, much less won an event on the PGA Tour. He may have earned more than $2 million US in 2008 and has topped $1 million already this year, but outside of serious golf fans, few would have recognized Goggin prior to this weekend.

The native of the Australian isle of Tasmania, had belief in himself, however, and the deeper he got into Sunday's final round the more he sensed he could pull it off his own Cinderella story.

Bogeys on 14, 15 and 16 ultimately ended those hopes, despite not hitting a truly bad shot in the bunch.

"I can't look back and say I made any really terrible swings or felt really bad about the shots when they were in the air," Goggin said. "That's links golf -- sometimes it can really look after you, other times it can punish you."

Despite the fact television almost cast him as an extra in the Watson saga, Goggin never considered himself a spectator until late in the round when it became clear his time had yet to arrive.

"I just tricked myself into believing it was like any other day and to go out and stay relaxed," said Goggin, who was the medallist in the 1995 Canadian Amateur at Toronto Golf Club. "After the first tee, literally (being paired with Watson) was irrelevant. I actually said to my caddy on 17: 'I can't believe he's going to win.' I realized than it would have been amazing, a stunning achievement."

"But when you're out there doing battle, you don't really think about stuff like that."

Goggin's performance certainly made an impression back home where he comes from a family of winners. Father, Charlie, trains a stable of 50 thoroughbreds and his mother Lindy is a three-time Australian women's amateur golf champion.

"I can watch my horses ... you own the horse and you bred the horse," Charlie Goggin said in Tasmania's biggest newspaper, the Mercury. "But when it comes to watching your son play major competitions, you get very involved in it."

And long before the finish line, at that.


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