Out on the PGA Tour, they don't come much more low-key and unassuming than Paul Goydos. That's why it's so great the guy just won his first tournament, the Sony Open, after 17 years as a journeyman pro.
I don't know Goydos well. I see him at tournaments, but we almost never speak. He always seems to be quietly going about his business, fading into the background behind the big name stars. He's not big -- 5-foot-9 with slumped shoulders -- and he looks more like an actuary than a pro athlete. How this guy can shoot 63 is beyond me.
The only time I ever had a real conversation with him was during a rain-delay a few years ago, when he and I and a few others ducked into a shed out on the course rather than trudge back to the clubhouse in the downpour. I recall him talking about his days working as a substitute teacher early in his golf career.
The next time I took much notice of Goydos was last summer, at Canoe Brook in New Jersey, where he and Michelle Wie were among the hundreds of hopefuls trying to qualify for the U.S. Open. At lunch, in a room set aside for players and media, I happened to sit down at the table next to him. He was alone and looked very glum after a lousy morning round that made his afternoon loop essentially a waste of time. I remember thinking how frustrating life can be for a plenty of pros not named Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson.
Now Goydos has finally won on the PGA Tour, which is gaurateed to change his life. His reaction? "I'm stunned."