Goosen unexciting, but may win again

ATLANTA -- The NFL has Terrell Owens. The NBA has Ron Artest.

The PGA Tour counters with ... Retief Goosen?

Sure, in this day and age of self-assured, chest-thumping athletes, it's nice to see a player who doesn't sound off too much. But this guy doesn't even make a peep.

Goosen's a walking snooze button. He makes C-Span look like an extreme sport.

Isn't a player who's sponsored by a vodka company (the aptly named Grey Goose) supposed to be, well, a bit of a party animal?

We suppose geese just aren't the party animal types. In fact, the flashiest thing about Goosen might be the goose headcover that adorns his driver when he's not methodically blistering tee shots into the dead center of the fairway.

Here's a list of all the things Goosen isn't: brash, arrogant, cocky, brazen, audacious, sassy, insolent, boisterous, energetic, exciting.

And a list of everything he is: bland, monotonous, plodding, unenthusiastic, unemotional, dull, vanilla, reserved, impassive, boring.

Oh, and there's one more thing about him: Goosen also in contention to win his second straight Tour Championship title.

Goosen will enter the final round at East Lake Golf Club three strokes behind leader Bart Bryant and one ahead of Tiger Woods. The two will be paired together in the final grouping Sunday for the third consecutive round, which means there might not be a lot of chatter between them.

"We had our three conversations, so we're kind of out of stuff to talk about," Bryant said. "We've talked a little bit, but he's just kind of a quiet guy."

Of course, Goosen is "kind of a quiet guy" in the same way Owens is just a tad outspoken and Artest is slightly unpredictable.

The stoic South African actually could have been much closer to the lead Saturday. With three birdies in his first six holes, Goosen climbed atop the leaderboard early during Saturday's third round. Then his swing started to get a little, uh, loosey-Goosey, so to speak. Clad in an orange shirt/brown pants ensemble that evoked images of a late-1970s San Diego Padres uniform, he started spraying the ball to all fields, playing the final 12 holes in 2 over, while often hitting way left or way right off the tee.

"It's terrible," Goosen said after Saturday's round. "[My game is] all over the place on the golf course off the tee. I'm scrambling well, that's the main thing.

"[Sunday] I'm going to have to scramble better or play better -- one of those two."

Heavy criticism from a guy who still managed to shoot a 1-under 69 for the day.

"It's been pretty neat to see [Goosen] hang in there the way he did," Bryant said. "I hope I can say this and not be taken wrong, but I don't think ... he's really at the top of his game, and it's amazing to see what he's done. You've got to give him a lot of credit for scoring the way he scored.

"I mean, that's the mark of a great champion, to do what's he's been doing."

A win on Sunday would hardly be the biggest of Goosen's career. Last year at East Lake, he overcame third-round co-leader Woods, among others, to win this event. And don't forget those two U.S. Open titles he's claimed in the past five years.

Through it all, Goosen has worked hard to be what he has become -- a career-best fourth in the current Official World Golf Ranking.

All work and no play has made Retief a very dull boy, indeed.

It may also make him a champion once again.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com