It has been a tough couple of years for Matthew Goggin. The Tasmanian dropping to World No.2007 in the world rankings, and fighting a lack of confidence in his game.
Goggin, who went close to claiming major glory at the 2009 Open Championship so famously lost by Tom Watson in a playoff, has struggled with injuries in recent years, the 44-year-old requiring surgery on his wrist before suffering a herniated disc in his back.
But the three-time Web.com Tour winner wound back the clock at the Australian PGA Championship on Thursday. Goggin firing a four under round of 68 around Royal Pines.
“It’s been tough for a while, I’ve sort of been injured the last couple of years, lost a lot of confidence, tried to play through an injury and when you lose confidence in this game it can be quite difficult,” Goggin said of his recent injury troubles.
“It was receptive early. It was a really nice morning, we didn’t have any breeze at all,” he added when asked about his first round that has him two off the pace. “So I sort of got off to a good start and managed to kind of just bring it home really. It was kind of a struggle the back nine, didn’t play that well, but turned three under and had a bit of momentum.”
Goggin’s form slide saw him miss 12 straight cuts over two years, but while he admits there was times he didn’t miss the game during his multiple injury layoffs Goggin never considered hanging the clubs up. And his return to Australia for the summer of golf has his confidence returning before heading back to America and the Web.com Tour.
“I had twenty years without an injury and then I’ve had a couple of good ones the last few years, so maybe I’m owed,” Goggin said.
“It’s interesting, when you get away from it and you are injured, and you’ve been doing it for as long as I sort of have, you don’t sort of miss it so much, but then as soon as you get out to a tournament you realise ‘well this is all you want to do, all you’ve ever wanted to do’. But when you’re not around it you can very easily think, ‘I don’t need to do that anymore’, but it’s what I love to do.
“I get a start early at Panama, because I won there a few years ago, so I still have status on the Web.com, it’s just capitalising on those couple of starts then getting some momentum from there.”
Three more good rounds at Royal Pines would certainly be a good momentum builder and potentially open up more playing options for the veteran, who joined with many other players underlying the importance of returning home each year despite falling out of the PGA Tour spotlight.
“It’s awesome, especially when I haven’t been playing that much and just get the opportunity to play a couple of weeks in a row and try and work on your game, and obviously they are great tournaments and you would like to do well and all that,” Goggin said of playing at home. “But even if you don’t necessarily play that great, you are back working on your craft a bit. If you’re just playing the web and you don’t get the opportunities, you know you’re just basically sitting around for three months, scratching around, while this is a really great opportunity to try and improve.”
“I think it’s more that you’re comfortable. You’re comfortable with the tournaments, you’re comfortable with the courses, I really like some of the courses we play, I like when it plays a bit trickier and it’s not necessarily all bombs away. You feel like if you play well you can compete.”