The verdant greens of Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage played host to a golfing spectacle that kept fans on the edge of their seats as the month of March ended. Amidst the unexpected showers that turned the final day of the Galleri Classic into a true test of resilience, it was Retief Goosen who emerged from the chaos, claiming victory in a dramatic and soggy battle against the elements—and the field.

Despite the rain, Southwest Riverside County was well represented by local talents like former Murrieta resident Tom Pernice Jr. and Temecula’s Corey Pavin (Journey at Pechanga course representative). But it was Goosen who lifted the trophy after outlasting Steven Alker in a finish fraught with stiff competition and a nerve-wracking battle with water hazards.

Retief Goosen captured The Galleri Classic played at the Mission Hills Country Club, Dinah Shore Tournament Course in Palm Springs from March 29-31. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

With the final holes echoing tension akin to the plot twists of a thriller, Goosen’s par at the last was enough to secure first place as he closed with a bogey-free 3-under 69, finishing at 13-under 203 for the tournament. Alker, Ricardo Gonzalez, and Alex Cejka, who all seemed poised to take the lead at different junctures, succumbed to the pressures of the finale, leaving them a stroke behind, and tied for second place.

“My strategy was to hold steady and aim for a respectable finish,” Goosen noted in the aftermath, pointing out that his performance was more about staying afloat than basking in the thrill of an easy win. Yet, his experience and calm under pressure served him well, as he took advantage of the misfortune that beset his rivals over the closing holes.

Goosen’s victory march, worth $330K, was almost drowned out by the sound of golf balls splashing into the waters surrounding the iconic island green of the 18th hole. Both Goosen and Alker found themselves submerged on their approach, but it was Goosen who navigated out of trouble with a putt that sealed the deal—a subdued yet poignant moment before the baffled crowd which had barely had time to process the turn of events.

The atmosphere might have been dampened by the rain, but the spirit and camaraderie among players and spectators alike were anything but. All eyes were on Alker’s solid performance up until the last few holes, but his sudden stumbles opened the door for Goosen, who grabbed the opportunity with both hands—or rather, one steady putter.

“The match came down to the wire, with less of the fanfare and more of an air of anticipation,” described a spectator, summing up the collective suspense. Goosen’s composed acknowledgment of the crowd epitomized the dignity and sportsmanship emblematic of the sport.

While Goosen celebrated his win, hearts went out to Alker, who, until the penultimate hole, had the game within his grasp. But as in life, golf can be unpredictable, and the Galleri Classic was a testament to that unpredictability and the relentless pursuit of excellence in the face of adversity. Pernice would finish at T39 with a total of 216 strokes, while Pavin finished T55 with a total of 219 strokes.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at

JP Raineri
JP Raineri

JP is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and head of the Sports Department for the Valley News. Over his time in the Temecula Valley, JP, a former Southwestern League head baseball coach, was also an on-air radio personality at Q103.3, KATY 101.3, Hot 103.9, and was a television host for the Outdoor Channel. When not covering local, or national sports, JP also serves as an Associate Baseball Scout with NSR.