PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Sutherland's ability to go super low rare, even among pros
June 05, 2019
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- June 05, 2019
Kevin Sutherland cards first 59 on Champions Tour at Dick's Sporting Goods
Golf is limbo with a dimpled ball.
There is low, and then there are the people who can limbo under a bar lit on fire resting on two 12-ounce glass Coca-Cola bottles.
Kevin Sutherland, 54, is one of the latter on PGA TOUR Champions. His closing 10-under 62 on Sunday at the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines helped him make up eight shots on leader Scott Parel, and he beat Parel in a playoff for his second victory of 2019.
Coincidentally, his first win also came in a playoff against Parel. They went seven extra holes to decide the Rapsican Systems Classic on March 31; this time Sutherland closed it out with a birdie on the second playoff hole.
The 62 was Sutherland’s second such round of 2019 and third of his Champions career. He also has 60 to his credit and the PGA TOUR Champions record 59, shot at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, New York, in 2014.
“How do I explain it (shooting 62 and other similarly very low rounds)?” Sutherland repeated. “I think not being able to explain it is part of the reason you can do it.
“I felt like on Sunday … you almost get kind of hungry. You feel like the birdies are coming easy and you just want more. I get even more relaxed when I start playing that way. I’m not trying to protect anything. I’m not saying be more aggressive, but I’m not afraid to make a bogey.”
Sutherland fed himself well, particularly on the back nine. He came in in 28, with eight birdies and a lone par after going out in 2-under 34 and giving little indication of what was about to transpire.
He actually had a tricky 4-footer for par on the first hole and said he was just trying to make par on Nos. 3, 4 and 5. Sutherland made his first birdie at No. 6 and his second at No. 8, and he was off and running.
“The round didn’t start fast,” Sutherland said. “It kind of grew and I got momentum and I just rode it.
“The 59 was completely different. I was 9 under after eight holes and obviously that was just gonna be a day. The similarity I take from it is don’t let how you start a round be an indicator of how the round will end. Things can turn around really fast.”
There are some commonalities to going low on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions. First off, it doesn’t happen in majors. The lowest rounds in golf history have come on courses that aren’t set up to the same standard as the majors. Secondly, it either will happen early in a tournament – Sutherland’s 59 came in the first round; his close friend and fellow Champions Tour player Paul Goydos’ 59 on the PGA TOUR at the John Deere Classic also came in the first round – when there is little pressure, or it will come in a final round from a player well off the pace, such as Sutherland’s 62 on Sunday or David Duval’s 59 to win the PGA TOUR Bob Hope Classic in 1999.
Goydos, 54, said getting in the proverbial zone is about staying in the “absolute present.” He said when he was there he wasn’t thinking about what was next or any shot outcome. It was a laser-like focus that he wishes he could replicate more often.
“I remember on 18 I needed birdie to shoot 59, and I hit the tee shot in the fairway, had a 7-iron to a front left pin that was five paces from the water,” Goydos said. “It didn’t even cross my mind that the water was there. I had no negative thoughts. Four paces right of the flag I knew there was a little slope there that will kick it to the hole. I thought nothing about pushing it or pulling it. I wasn’t thinking about the outcome. There was no consideration about what could happen. This is what I need to do. I hit it into a one square foot radius and had an 8-footer left center for birdie. I had no thought other than hitting it in and it went dead in.”
Sutherland’s experience on the second playoff hole on Sunday to beat Parel was similar.
“The putt I had on the second playoff hole … I really felt like I was going to make it,” Sutherland said. “I would have been shocked if I didn’t make it.”
But he did and in the process vaulted to No. 3 in the Schwab Cup standings. Sutherland won the Schwab Cup in 2017, and he said given his hot start to 2019 he has his sights set on adding another one.
“It would be silly not to think like that given how my year has started,” Sutherland said. “I want to be in position for those last three events, most definitely that last one (the Charles Schwab Cup Championship). I just want to keep playing good golf.”