ENDICOTT, N.Y. – Paul Goydos likes to say his golf game is two good rounds, then a mediocre one.
“That’s kind of all tournaments, not just here,” he said before playing in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
Last year, he did just that at En-Joie Golf Club, fading late while challenging for the lead and losing to Jeff Maggert by two shots.
For one day at least, Goydos didn’t follow that script. He shot a bogey-free 69 on Sunday to beat Wes Short Jr. (69) by two shots on a tricky day at En-Joie buffeted by gusting winds, finishing at 14-under 202 for his third career victory on the Champions Tour.
“My game is like a jack-in-the box, kind of keep spinning it and it pops up every once in a while,” Goydos deadpanned afterward. “There was no inkling that I was going to play well, other than the mythical law of averages. Things hadn’t gone well, hadn’t played well, my attitude was bad, so naturally I won.”
Qualifier Neal Lancaster (70) was alone in third at 11 under, while John Riegger (72) finished tied for fourth at 10 under with Joe Durant (68).
Glen Day (69) and Kevin Sutherland (69) were another shot back in a tie for sixth.
John Daly (73) was three shots behind to start and couldn’t muster anything. He made bogey at the par-5 fifth hole and another at No. 9 to make the turn at 7 under, where he finished.
First-round leader Scott Dunlap began the overcast day one shot off the lead and took himself out of contention with a disastrous second hole. Dunlap twice plunked shots into the greenside water hazard at the par 4, a 379-yard dogleg left, and carded a quintuple-bogey 9. He finished with a 75 to tie Daly.
Goydos began play tied for the lead at 11 under with Riegger and was the steadiest of the leaders, carding eight pars and making birdie at the par-4 sixth hole while none of the others staged a threat in difficult conditions. A birdie at No. 10 dropped him to 13 under, three shots ahead of Riegger, Short and Lancaster.
Riegger, who played the first two rounds without making bogey, had his streak end with a bogey on Sunday’s opening hole. He had another at the par-3 fourth hole after having recovered with a pretty fairway chip for eagle at the par-5 No. 3, but another bogey at No. 10 dropped him to 10 under in a three-way tie for second.
Riegger’s strength over the first two rounds had been his play at the generous par-5s, having gone 7 under, and his streak of excellence on the holes continued on the back side. At the par-5 No. 12, he notched his second straight eagle at the hole to move within a shot of Goydos.
Despite another bogey at No. 14, Riegger was still within striking distance at No. 16 and rallied once more. He drove the trees right at the short par 4 but rallied for birdie. Unfazed, Goydos, who played it safe on the hole by laying up short of the elevated green that’s guarded by a handful of bunkers, matched Riegger’s birdie to maintain his two-shot edge.
“I mean, John couldn’t have hit a better putt,” Goydos said. “He hit that putt and I’m like, ‘Wow!’ I was very happy with the way I kind of didn’t rush it. I kind of stayed in my routine, kind of went through whatever I needed to do to hit a good putt.”
Both drove into the bunker on the right of the green at No. 17, their balls sitting side-by-side in the white sand, and only Goydos escaped. After Riegger hit out past the pin and two-putted for bogey, Goydos blasted to 4 feet and saved par.
“John hit a nice bunker shot. Him going first I think was an advantage for me,” Goydos said.
Riegger also made bogey at 18 to slip back further.
Lancaster, in only his second tournament of the year, watched his chances fade when his tap-in putt for birdie at No. 16 lipped out while trailing by two shots.
“I guess just so close you kind of took it for granted,” Lancaster said. “I just think it’s nerves. I feel like I should have won the tournament.”
Calgary’s Stephen Ames finished in a tie for 23rd at 4-under. Jim Rutledge of Victoria posted a 3-under on the day to earn a share of 39th, while St. Catharines, Ont., native Rod Spittle finished T66.