Opinions vary on which 59 is most impressive
July 02, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Stuart Appleby shot 59 four years ago on Sunday to win The Greenbrier Classic by one shot. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
Four years ago at TPC Old White, Stuart Appleby etched his name into the record books, becoming at the time just the fifth player in PGA TOUR history to shoot 59.
Appleby made nine birdies and an eagle in the final round of The Greenbrier Classic and went on to win the tournament by a stroke.
More than two decades earlier, Al Geiberger had become the first player on TOUR to break the sub-60 barrier.
Playing under lift, clean and place, he had 11 birdies in the opening round of the 1977 Danny Thomas Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Cordova, Tenn. He eventually went on to win.
When Paul Goydos shot 59 in the first round of the 2010 John Deere Classic, it was also under lift, clean and place. But he didn’t win, finishing second that week.
Neither did Jim Furyk, who joined the club last year with a 59 in the second round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms outside Chicago. The next-best score that day was six strokes higher, but Furyk ended the week behind Zach Johnson.
Ditto Chip Beck, who finished third in the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational despite a third-round 59 that included 13 birdies at Sunrise Golf Club.
David Duval, on the other hand, did win, making an eagle on the final hole of the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic not only for a one-shot victory but to cap a Sunday 59.
So which one was the most impressive?
It depends who you ask.
“(Geiberger’s) seems like the most impressive,” said Goydos. “It was on a difficult golf course with wood woods and he was the first to do it.”
There’s a but for Goydos, though.
“On the other side of that Duval’s and Appleby’s were to win by one on Sunday,” he said. “That stands out, too.”
Goydos, by the way, says that his own 59 doesn’t stand out as much because there were two other rounds of 60 shot that same day.
Jay Haas, meanwhile, agrees with Goydos when it comes to Geiberger’s historic effort.
“His 59 came in the dead ball era,” the 60-year-old Haas said. “The greens were bumpy and the course wasn’t short. The Bermudagrass wasn’t what it is today.”
The fact that Geiberger was the first to do it also carries a lot of weight.
“No man ran a sub 4-minute mile until Roger Bannister,” says swing coach Sean Foley. “Quickly after that many did. It’s always hardest to be the first.”
Fellow coaches Butch Harmon and Todd Anderson agree for the same reasons. So do Lee Janzen and Erik Compton. All also cite inferior equipment.
But not everyone thinks Geiberger’s ranks at the top of the list.
“Furyk’s by far,” says Billy Horschel. “It was by far the toughest conditions and course of the 59s.”
Added Notah Begay III: “Duval because he finished with authority and needed an eagle on the last hole to win and break 60. Impressive compsure and execution.”
Though Jason Gore’s 59 came on the Web.com Tour and he agrees Geiberger was a trailblazer, he can’t help but feel Appleby’s and Duval’s 59s were perhaps just as impressive.
“They were awesome because it was in the final round to win the tournament,” he said.
Brad Faxon had a difficult time trying to separate the 59s but winning swayed him, too.
“To me Duval’s 59 is most memorable because it was when he was on the top of his game and had been world No. 1,” he said. “But to eagle the last hole, over water to shoot 59 and to win is pretty unbelievable. The other 59s didn’t have the pressure Duval had.”
In the end does it really matter?
“There’s good arguments for all four of them,” said Janzen.
And one thing in common with each.
“There was no memory of what I did wrong and no consequence of what I was about to do,” said Goydos. “There was an ability to stay in the present, time stood still.”
So when will someone break that barrier and shoot 58?
Goydos said he’d be surprised if it happened in the next five or 10 years.
“It’s hard to go from 60 to 59 and even harder to go from 59 to 58,” he said. “And the courses are getting harder.
“But you never know. It could happen.”
Inside the PGA TOUR
David Duval and Jim Furyk talk 59’s