By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
Russell Knox had a hunch he was going to get some putts to fall on Friday – if only because the previous round had left him so unfulfilled.
Despite a crisp tee-to-green game in the opening round of the Albertson’s Boise Open, Knox’s only birdies came on a pair of par-5s. “I thought if I did the same today,” he said, “chances are some putts were going to drop.”
Perhaps not like this, though.
Buoyed by three birdies from at least 25 feet away, the Scotsman became just the fifth man to shoot 59 on the Web.com Tour when he blistered Hillcrest Country Club for eight birdies and two eagles on a warm Idaho day.
“That’s the way this stupid game works,” Knox said after following up a 30 on Hillcrest’s back nine with a 29 on the front. “You have a day like yesterday and hit nice putts, and they just don’t go in. Then the following day, they go in.
“It has a funny way of evening itself out. I kind of knew I had a decent chance of making some putts today. I didn’t realize I was going to make nearly everything.”
Knox’s performance was so superb, in fact, that he had two chances to take the record even lower. But his approaches at Nos. 8-9 couldn’t get close enough to the hole, converting long two-putts to hold his place in history.
Nor was the final stroke a leisurely tap-in. The Jacksonville Beach pro faced a 7-foot par at the final hole to complete the task.
“I told myself I had no choice but to make this putt,” he said. “Missing wasn’t an option. I’d convinced myself that I’d already made it.
“It was right in the middle. Never in doubt.”
It finished off the second 59 on the Web.com circuit this year, two weeks after Will Wilcox hit the magic number in the final round of the Utah Championship. Knox’s previous low on Web.com Tour was a 63 in the second round of the 2011 BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Earlier this year, he matched his PGA TOUR low with an opening 64 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Before coming to Boise, Knox had broken 70 in nine of his past 10 rounds on the PGA TOUR.
“I’ve been striking the ball well for a couple of months now,” said Knox, who tied for 13th in Hartford and 17th last week in Mississippi. “I knew if I played like I did yesterday tee-to-green, I had a good chance to shoot in the mid-60s.”
That was in sight by the turn, after a birdie/eagle/birdie stretch starting at No.15. At the par-5 second hole, Knox watched a 50-foot putt drop into the cup for another eagle. That was followed by a 12-foot birdie at No.3, then one from 25 feet at the par-3 fourth.
“Quickly I did the math – five holes to go, and I needed three birdies,” he said. “That was the first time I thought about where I stood. Then the next hour or so was a complete blur.”
Knox drained a 30-foot birdie from the fringe at No.5 – “a huge bonus,” he said – before two more of the routine variety. And he didn’t play defensively after reaching 12-under. He ripped a driver at the short par-4 ninth, where many players opt for a hybrid or iron.
“I just went with the mindset of going for it,” Knox said. “You don’t get chances to shoot 59 all the time. Plus, I felt comfortable with my swing. I knew if I just totally committed to my shot, I’d be fine.”
The swing, Knox emphasized, was never a concern.
“The only difference is the putts,” he said. “My putt on the second hole for eagle is probably the longest putt I’ve made all year. The fourth hole was probably the fifth-longest I’ve made all year, and the next hole was probably the sixth-longest.”
Knox has made a run at 59 twice before, both on the NGA Hooters circuit. He needed a birdie over the final three holes in Austin, but bogeyed instead on the way to a 61. Later in Tunica, Miss., a birdie/birdie finish would have given him 59.
“I lipped out both times,” he recalled, noting that he’d preceded that 61 with a 62. “So I ended up shooting 62-61. That’s kind of neat.”
He might need a similar performance to stay atop the leaderboard in Boise. Jamie Lovemark, last week’s winner in Kansas City, lurks one shot back after a 62. So does former Boise champ Hunter Haas, who opened with a 62.
“It’s so warm, the ball’s flying forever,” Knox said. “There are a bunch of holes at just over 400 yards. … It’s definitely not an easy course. But if you can get [the ball] in play off the tee, you can score.”
It also should be noted that of the other men to card 59 on the Web.com Tour – Wilcox, Jason Gore (2005 Cox Classic), Doug Dunakey (1998 Miami Valley Open) and Notah Begay III (1998 Dominion Open) – only one claimed victory at week’s end. And Gore accomplished his only after forcing a playoff.
“There’s still a million different things that can happen over the weekend,” said Knox, insisting he’d have no trouble sleeping Friday night.
“Obviously no one can ever take this round away from me. But I came here to win a tournament, not shoot 59. It’s a nice bonus, and it’d sure be nice to do both.”
|Russell Knox shoots 59 in Round 2|