By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Robert Garrigus knew he had a shot at history as he stood on the eighth tee of the Nicklaus Course at PGA West on Sunday morning.
"A hundred percent," he said firmly.
With two holes remaining in his third round at the Humana Challenge, Garrigus was 11 under and flirting with a 59 -- the number only five previous PGA TOUR players had ever shot. The eighth happens to be a 509-yard par 5 and "I was thinking eagle the whole way," he said.
"We took out driver, I hammered it down the right side and it just kicked right instead of left," Garrigus recalled. "I wasn't nervous, I was just pumped up.
"And then hit a great shot in there, over the side slope with a 5-iron from 206, and just, I knew that if I birdied the last two holes I was going to shoot 59. So I hammered that thing to make sure it got there and just misread it a bit.
“But made a couple really good par putts coming down there on my 18th hole. So very pleased with the way today went."
As it was, the 61 Garrigus shot nipped his career-best by two strokes. Even better, it moved him to 18 under and into a tie with Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and John Mallinger, three strokes off the pace being set by Mark Wilson.
"It could have been something crazy," Garrigus said, lamenting a couple of putts he missed in shooting 29 on his first nine on Saturday before the horn blew. "But it was crazy -- 61's pretty dang good in a PGA TOUR event."
Garrigus said he's been working out this year -- "It's kind of a new me," he noted -- and the man who used to use a 28-inch putter is getting used to the long one he now employs. He was pleased with the way he handled the unexpected overnight wind delay, too, after playing his first 13 holes in 9 under.
"In the past I've always not dealt well with the breaks and coming back out and trying to keep the momentum going," Garrigus said. "But I got right back out at it and holed that 25-, 30-footer up the hill (for birdie), hit it right in the center of the hole. That was a lot of fun."
Garrigus, who birdied two of the five holes he played on Sunday morning, will be playing in the final group of the day with Wilson and Johnson. He's not overly concerned about the two-hour break between the completion of the third round and the start of the fourth, either.
"I'm a new guy, I'm going to go in and eat and work out and stretch again and I'll be ready," Garrigus said. "I'll be focused for the next round and this one didn't exist."