Pro rushes to 1st tee in sneakers — and fires his best round of season

Tano Goya earlier this year at the Fortinet Championship.

getty images

When Tano Goya woke up Thursday, he was an alternate at the Shriners Children’s Open, in Las Vegas. But he had a funny feeling that he wouldn’t end the day with that status.

“I heard that Matt Kuchar was struggling with his knee, so I was like, maybe I have a chance,” said Goya, a 34-year-old PGA Tour rookie from Argentina.

Should the call come, Goya wanted to be prepared. After arriving at TPC Summerlin at 5:30 a.m., he eased into the day with a visit to the Tour’s fitness truck. Outside, Goya’s caddie was patrolling the 1st tee, eyes peeled for any no-shows. As the 7:02 starting time approached, an opportunity availed itself. Where was Peter Malnati?

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When Goya’s looper called his man to report that Malnati was nowhere to be found, Goya was surprised. “I said, ‘I saw him in the gym. I saw him in the truck.’ I was like, he’s here.”

But he wasn’t there — at least, not on the tee.

“I was, like, just in case, I’m going to get ready,” Goya said. “So I put my clothes on, and they called me saying, ‘You’re up in two minutes.’”

Sure enough, Malnati was a late WD.

One-hundred and 20 seconds isn’t much time to activate for a PGA Tour round. Goya hadn’t hadn’t hit balls, or eaten breakfast. Heck, he didn’t even have time to fetch his golf shoes. “I hit the first tee shot with my trainers,” he said. “It was funny, no practice at all or anything.”

Rattled? Not Goya! He settled into his opening tee shot, on the par-4 10th hole, and split the fairway. Next task: retrieving his spikes. “I asked one of the rules officials if they could get my shoes,” Goya said. “I said, ‘Just grab whatever you see in the locker,’ and he grabbed my shoes. I changed them in the middle of the 10th fairway.”

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From there, Goya was off and running — or, well, scoring. After opening with three pars, he birdied 13, 16 and 17 to turn in 33, then played the front side in even to sign for a three-under 68, his best round of the young season.   

Afterward, Goya was asked if the mad scramble to the 1st tee freed him up mentally.

“I was confident that I was going to get in,” he said. “So I did a great preparation Tuesday and Wednesday, and I felt good about my game. Only one mistake that I hit it into the desert on, I think No. 2 or 3. Other than that, I played pretty consistent, pretty solid.”

Goya is five back of leader Tom Hoge. He will tee off in the second round at 12:02 p.m. local time Friday, presumably in his golf shoes.

alan bastable

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.