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 held only a one-stroke lead Thursday after an incredible opening round at the John Deere Classic.
Defending champion Steve Stricker shot a 60, making for the two lowest scores ever in a single round at a PGA event. And he just missed tying Goydos on the last hole.
With the par-71 TPC Deere Run course softened by three days of intermittent rain, a lot of golfers were expected to go low. But the fourth 59 in tour history and then a 60 on the same day?
No one could have expected that.
“You’re 12 back before you even step on the first tee. That’s tough to swallow,” Stricker said. “That’s why you’ve got to get into a little different thought process and get in your own little world and chip away.”
“The course is ripe for scoring,” he added.
Michael Letzig, Matt Jones, Aaron Baddeley and James Nitties all finished at 7-under 64. Jay Williamson, Daniel Chopra, Scott McCarron and Charley Hoffman had 65s.
All paled in comparison with Goydos’ stunning 59.
He has missed (seven) almost has many cuts as he’s made this year (10). 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 quadruple-bogey 9 on No. 14.
“I’ve been very good at playing poorly now for the last 10 tournaments or so,” Goydos said.
His tee shots found the middle of the fairway. His approaches stuck on the green. And, most important, his putts found the middle of the cup again and again.
Goydos, who hasn’t won on the tour since 2007 and has just two victories in 18 years overall, needed only 22 putts to dominate the soggy course (Stricker needed 25). With such wet conditions, golfers were allowed to lift, clean and place balls on the fairway.
The 59 was the first 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.
U.S. Women’s Open
OAKMONT, Pa. — Temperatures were in the 90s. Michelle Wie was in the 80s. On a demanding day when tough old Oakmont Country Club illustrated again that playing par golf can be an achievement, only Brittany Lang was in the 60s. Lang withstood Oakmont’s slick, sun-browned greens and the unrelenting heat to shoot a 2-under 69 on Thursday and take a one-shot lead over 2008 champion Inbee Park, amateur Kelli Shean and three others in the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open.
LUSS, Scotland — Darren Clarke upstaged fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell with a 6-under 65 to take a one-shot lead after the first round. McDowell, returning to tournament golf and his European Tour roots for the first time since his win at the U.S. Open, shot a 71 on a blustery day at Loch Lomond. McDowell birdied his final two holes to finish alongside Phil Mickelson, who was making his first appearance in Europe since winning the Masters in April. One shot behind Clarke were England’s Graeme Storm and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, who both shot 66.