Goosen, Alker, Cejka share Galleri Classic lead

golf30 March 2024 07:58| © Reuters
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Retief Goosen © Gallo Images

Retief Goosen of South Africa rode a hot start to a 6-under 66 on Friday for a share of the first-round lead at the Galleri Classic in Rancho Mirage, California.

Goosen, Steven Alker of New Zealand and Alex Cejka of Germany are tied atop the leaderboard, one stroke ahead of fourth-place Billy Andrade. Steve Stricker, last year's Charles Schwab Cup champion, is part of a large tie at 4-under 68 at Mission Hills Country Club.

Goosen birdied his first three holes, then added two more at the par-3 fifth and eighth holes for a 5-under 31 on the front nine. He reached 7 under par through 13 holes before cooling off, with a bogey and four pars the rest of the way.

So despite his low score, Goosen said he was heading to the range after his round.

"I wasn't hitting the ball that good, funny enough, but made everything (putting) on the front nine," Goosen said. "Then really from sort of No 11 onwards, I didn't really hit the ball all that good, missed a lot of fairways, struggled to get it close to the hole. You know, caught up with me on the back nine, the bad ball-striking."


Goosen, a World Golf Hall of Famer, has just two victories to his name on the PGA Tour Champions and none since March 2022.

"I just like the course. The course is in great shape," Goosen said. "Everything's there in front of you. If you hit the ball well, you're going to score well and putt well."

Goosen tied for third at the Galleri Classic last year, while Alker finished second. Alker went bogey-free with six birdies on Friday.

"Around this golf course, you've just got to keep it in the fairway to give yourself some chances," Alker said. "Things might soften up a little bit, so maybe the irons being a little more aggressive. I think the key here is really the tee shot is very important just to give yourself a shot at the green."

Cejka joined Alker in posting a bogey-free round. He started on the back nine and finished his day with consecutive birdies at Nos. 8-9.

David Toms, the defending champion, opened with a 3-under 69.