Goydos shoots 59, only fourth time in PGA history
SILVIS, Ill. – After four months of pretty lousy play on the PGA Tour, Paul Goydos managed to turn things around just a bit – he shot a 59.
Out of nowhere.
“Today was a nuclear bomb,” Goydos said. “I don’t know where it came from. If I knew that, I wouldn’t be able to touch it.”
Perhaps just as amazing, Goydos led by only one stroke.
Defending champion Steve Stricker shot a 60 – and just missed tying Goydos on the last hole.
Goydos has missed almost has many cuts as he’s made. He hasn’t had a top 40 finish since early May. He led the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February by a stroke with five holes to play, only to tumble out of contention with an embarrassing quadruple-bogey 9 on No. 14.
“I’ve been very good at playing poorly now for the last 10 tournaments or so,” Goydos said.
Goydos, with only two victories in his 18 years on the PGA Tour, became only the fourth player in tour history to shoot a 59 with an amazing opening round at the John Deere Classic on Thursday.
His tee shots found the middle of the fairway. His approaches stuck on the green. And, most importantly, his putts found the middle of the cup over and over again.
Stricker’s almost did, too.
His second shot on the par-4 18th bounced on the green and appeared to be heading for the cup. But it curled around at the last second, leaving him an easy 2-footer for the 11th birdie in his bogey-free round.
He kept alive his hopes of catching Goydos by salvinging par on No. 14 after hitting into a bunker left of the green. After another par on 15, Stricker closed with three straight birdies.
Goydos, who hasn’t won on the tour since 2007, needed just 22 putts to dominate the par-71 TPC Deere Run course, which was softened by three days of intermittent rain. The wet conditions allowed for preferred lies, permitting golfers to lift, clean and place their ball on the fairway.
It was the first 59 on the tour since David Duval’s memorable final round helped him win the 1999 Bob Hope Classic.
Al Geiberger was the first to shoot 59, in the second round of the 1977 Memphis Classic at Colonial Country Club. Chip Beck shot his 59 in the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational at Sunrise Golf Course.
Goydos is the first to shoot 59 on a par 71. The others came on par 72s.
Duval finished with a 67 Thursday while Goydos and everyone else talked about his amazing round.
Goydos birdied every hole on the back nine except for No. 15, where he holed a 6-foot par putt to keep alive his hopes. He finished off with three birdies, the last one from 7 feet to join the most exclusive club in golf.
Goydos raised his putter to a roar from the crowd when his 59th shot fell into the cup and he high-fived his way to the clubhouse.
“It’s almost a mythical number in our game,” Goydos said. “I’ve gone from clubbing a ball in the backyard all the way to the moon, and missed all the steps in between.”
Goydos’ 8-under 28 on the back nine matched the lowest nine-hole score in relation to par on the PGA Tour, last achieved by Corey Pavin, who had an 8-under 26 in the first round of the 2006 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.
Goydos is a most unlikely member of the 59 club. At No. 137 in the world ranking, he missed his last two cuts and had not broken par in his last six rounds.
“I thought my game was getting better,” Goydos said. “Again, the quantum leap from where I thought it was getting better to where it went today, I can’t explain. But it was trending in the right direction.”
Indeed, Goydos set himself up for a good round by playing the front nine at 4-under.
“And then the craziness just blurted out of me,” he said.
He sank a 6-foot putt on No. 10 to go 5-under. Goydos looked to be in trouble on the par-4 11th when his approach didn’t hit high enough on the green and the ball rolled back, leaving him with a 39-foot putt for birdie.
No problem. Goydos knocked it right into the hole.
“I made a bomb – I mean dead center,” he said.
On No. 12, Goydos found himself 20 feet away, behind and to the left of the pin. He tapped his ball on the downhill putt and it inched into the hole.
“Gravity is the best friend I have,” Goydos quipped to Cliff Kresge and Jonathan Byrd, his playing partners.
Byrd finished with a 5-under 66 and Kresge came in at 67.
“I was trying to keep pace with him and I didn’t do a very good job,” Byrd said. “That was awesome.”
With a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-4 13th, Goydos dropped to 8 under. He hit to within 6 feet on the par-4 14th and sank the putt to leave him 9 under.
On 15, Goydos needed three shots to reach the green, then dropped in a 6-footer for par. But he finished with a flourish, putting from the fringe to sink a 14-footer for birdie on the par-3 16th, dropping in an 11-footer on the par-5 17th and knocking a 7-iron from 145 yards to within 7 feet on 18.
“There’s no way I can hit a 7-iron 175. Not going to happen, no matter how hard the wind’s blowing,” Goydos said. “Maybe at the British where the ball lands at 140 and bounces to 170. And I hit a 7-iron as good as I could hit it.”
The crowd at 18 grew steadily as Goydos’ score kept dropping and the news spread through the gallery. Even fellow players Notah Begay and J.J. Henry dropped by to watch his run at history.
The final putt was like most of the others Goydos rolled in with his cross-handed grip – right in the middle of the cup.
“Standing over that last putt, I was probably as nervous as I’ve ever been over a putt in my life,” he said. “The putt would have gone in a thimble. Don’t know why. That’s just the way it went today.”
And what a day it was for Goydos.
“I think that is a goal in your career, to break 60,” he said. “When I look back and I’m not playing anymore … I’ve got 10 holes-in-one. I’ve got three double-eagles. Fifty-nine is one of those things I’m going to look at and say, ‘That’s pretty cool.”‘
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