Who would have thought that Michelle Wie would post a first round 82 at Oakmont? Who expected Phil Mickelson to miss the cut at the Scottish Open due to a nine, one more than a snowman, on the 18th hole? And Paul Goydos, now Mr. 59?
Oakmont, which is pretty much of a giant-killer for member play, got Michelle Wie right out of the gate. She was eight over after eight holes.
Credit her Stanford education for succinct self- evaluation: “It's kind of one of those days where nothing goes as planned,” Wie said.
But she didn’t think it was a hopeless cause. She had yet to start her second round and even if she shoots another 82, it won’t be the worst score posted. That honor ( for professionals) goes to Kirby Dreher who was +25 with three holes to play. Projected cut was +11 with half of the second round incomplete, so that may go up. Think maybe the set up is a little too tough?
Mickelson blamed his nine on the 18th on two bad swings, and he was right. He had to re-tee it three times.
“The club felt like it slipped a little bit on the first one,” he told the Associated Press. “The second one felt better. I had to take 3-wood out and aim to the right on the third.”
So much for getting into the competition before The British Open, and buh-bye to that elusive No. 1 ranking. Again. However, it does get him to St. Andrews early.
As amazing as Wie and Mickelson were this week, no one shocked the golf world more than Paul Goydos did by shooting a 59. It wouldn’t matter where he did it. He’s just plain least likely. As it happened, it was at a TPC Course, so not the pitch ‘n putt down the road in Long Beach where he lives.
No one expected the 46-year-old Goydos to be the fourth man to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour. It would be more likely that they expected him to miss the cut.
The self-deprecating Goydos was master of the understatement when asked what he was thinking about during the historic round.
“Well, obviously I wasn't thinking,” he said. “If I was thinking I think I would shoot 74 or 5.”
When you hear somebody shoots a 59, you expect every shot to be good and every lie to be perfect, but in Goydos’ case, we shouldn’t be surprised, it wasn’t. The key to his round, he said, was a good break he got after a horrible drive on the fifth hole, the only fairway he missed all day.
“Hit it in the right trees and the right trees are dead,” he explained. “I'm walking off the tee thinking I gotta chip out.”
When he got to the ball, he had an opening, over a tree, to the putting surface.
“I actually got on the green and ended up making about an 8-footer for two-putt to stay 2-under after 5,” he explained. He added birdies on six and seven and was four under par for the first nine holes.
“And then the craziness just blurted out of me,” Goydos continued. “I made a bomb on 11 for birdie. I mean dead center. I made a really good putt from about 20 feet on the next hole for birdie, dead center. I made a 12-footer on the next hole, dead center.”
When he made another birdie at the 13th, he was eight under.
“I got Laker warmup,” he added. “I am making it from everywhere.”
By the 15th hole, he said he had lost track of his score.
“I kind of realized walking to the next tee, if I birdied the last three holes, I could shoot 59,” he said. “And they talk about you don't talk to the pitcher when he's got a no-hitter going, blah, blah, blah, but the reality is in that situation three holes to go, that's a pretty good challenge to yourself, and that's what I did, see if you can birdie three holes, see if you can make good swings and make good strokes and see what happens.”
What happened was the fourth 59 on the PGA Tour in competition.
On the final hole, he hit a magnificent 7-iron which went farther than usual for him, 175 yards. It landed about seven feet from the hole.
“I was pretty nervous standing there looking around,” he admitted. “I was probably as nervous as I've been over a putt in my life was on that putt. And again, the putt would have gone in a thimble. Don't know why. That's just the way it went today.”
Goydos credited the grounds crew which worked hard to get the course playable after a deluge on Wednesday. And he believed playing lift clean and place helped.
“Without a question ball in hand was a big benefit. I don't shoot 59 without ball-in-hand, I don't think,” he said.
Al Geiberger shot a 59 in 1977 in Memphis at Colonial CC. His round was also lift clean and place. Chip Beck shot 59 at Sunrise GC in the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas under good conditions. Chip Beck’s 59 came during the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational and was shot at Sunrise GC. That was not the host course, and so his round was minimally televised. Basically no one off site saw more than a couple of putts.
David Duval’s 59 came in the final round of the Bob Hope tournament in 1999 at the Arnold Palmer Course at PGA West. He won the tournament by a single shot by making an eagle putt on the par five 18th. As it happens, I was there for that one. No lift clean and place in the desert. It’s fire low and hang, which was what Duval did.
When asked what his playing companions said when he kept making birdies Duval replied with a laugh, “They just kept saying. ‘Good shot!’
In Duval’s case, he kept hitting irons to less than six feet, it seemed. Shot after shot was two feet, three feet from the pin. It was truly an astonishing round of iron play. In Goydos’s round, he seemed to make putts from everywhere, long ones, medium ones, on the fringe ones. He probably could have putted it in from the moon the way he was playing.
Doug Dunakey shot a 59 on the Nike Tour in 1998, on a par 70 course, and Notah Begay also had a 59 on the Nike Tour that same year.
And least we forget, Annika Sorenstam shot a 59 in competition, at Moon Valley CC in Phoenix in 2001. While the gallery on site was mesmerized, if memory serves, ESPN was so enamored with her round that they cut away and went to some other programming before she finished play. We didn’t see the round finish.
And there are two Mr. 58s: Ryo Ishikawa shot 58 in Japan, on a shorter course than is typical on the PGA Tour today, 6,545-yards. During U.S. Open qualifying in 1999, Shigeki Maruyama had a 58, but it was not considered an official record since it was in qualifying not in the tournament.