(Reuters) - Jim Furyk broke golf’s magic number when he shot a record 12-under-par 58 at the Travelers Championship on Sunday, the lowest round ever on the PGA Tour.
Furyk, who previously was one of six players to card 59 on tour, also became the first player to break 60 twice on an internationally recognized tour.
“(It is) pretty humbling, to think of all the great players, great names, to be the very lowest and the only person right now (to shoot 58) is pretty special,” he told Golf Channel.
Furyk compiled one eagle and 10 birdies in the final round at River Highlands, and described it as a “wonderful day” and a completely unexpected one.
“After shooting two over par yesterday, being a little confused with my game, that was the farthest thing from my imagination going out this morning but got off to a great start and got in a great rhythm and just loved the way I was hitting the ball today,” the 2003 U.S. Open champion said.
Pennsylvania-born Furyk, 46, a 17-times winner on tour, has made a career out of his machine-like consistency with his unique swing, and he was in that mode on Sunday, hitting all 18 greens in regulation.
He made a sizzling start, completing the front nine in eight-under 27 thanks to six birdies, as well as an unlikely eagle at the par-four third, where he holed out from 135 yards.
The former world number two reeled off seven successive birdies from the sixth to the 12th hole and posted his score despite picking up only one birdie in the final six holes, a sharply-breaking 23-footer at the 16th.
His score could have been even lower, because a seven-foot birdie putt horseshoed out at the 15th, and he also nearly holed out twice from the fairway earlier in the round.
“I almost made a nine-iron at seven and almost holed the wedge at nine,” he told Golf Channel.
“(The) ball marks were two feet in front of the hole and ball was a foot behind the hole. At that point I’m really thinking about (breaking 60).”
After his front nine, Furyk spoke to his caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan about staying aggressive in the benign conditions.
“I’ve never shot a 27, so that’s pretty cool. I looked at Fluff and said let’s forget about the front nine and go and fire a good number on the back.”
But he could hardly avoid thinking about history over the final few holes.
”It’s a mental battle just because of the number,“ he said. ”I got it to 12-under-par on 16. How do you try to stay aggressive, how do you keep the pedal down?
“I couldn’t really feel my hands on the first putt (on 18). I don’t remember hitting the putt. I‘m glad the second putt was just a foot.”
Furyk nearly did not even get to play on the weekend. He made a seven-foot putt at the 36th hole on Friday to make the cut with nothing to spare.
He finished at 11-under 269 on Sunday.
Furyk is the second player to card 58 on an internationally-recognized tour, joining Japanese Ryo Ishikawa, who shot 12-under 58 in the final round of the Crowns tournament on the Japan Tour in 2010.
There have also been several 58s on mini-tours, usually on easy courses, but 59 has long been considered golf’s magic number on the major tours.
Al Geiberger in 1977 was the first player to post 59 on the PGA Tour, followed by Chip Beck (1991), David Duval (1999), Paul Goydos (2010), Stuart Appleby (2010) and Furyk (2013).
Special though Furyk considers his record, he also prides himself on staying competitive for so long.
“(What) I‘m proud of is my longevity ... to still be out here and have a little life, win last year, days like this, that’s why it’s keeping me around and playing well.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Rex Gowar