(Reuters) - Troy Matteson briefly eyed a 59 as he snapped a season-long slump to match his lowest ever score on the PGA Tour with a 61 for fourth place after the second round of the Greenbrier Classic on Friday.
American Matteson enjoyed a magnificent day on the greens, using his putter just 19 times as he racked up nine birdies to trail leader Billy Hurley III by two strokes on Greenbrier’s Old White course in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia .
“This was unlike any day I’ve had this year but I’ve always been a streaky putter. When I get hot, it usually falls in from just about anywhere,” Matteson told PGATour.com after posting a seven-under 133 total.
Hurley shot a blemish-free 63 to finish on nine-under, a shot better than Kevin Chappell (65) and Chris Stroud (66) on an all-American leaderboard on the country’s Independence Day.
Eight-time major champion Tom Watson, 64, came within four strokes of matching his age and made the cut, eight strokes behind.
Matteson had missed the cut in his previous four starts but after a birdie at his penultimate hole stood on the final tee with thoughts of matching the 59 fired by Australian Stuart Appleby, who shot the rare number at the same venue four years ago to win the title.
Needing a hole-in-one at the par-three 18th to become only the seventh player on tour to break 60, Matteson took dead aim with a pitching wedge from 163 yards but could only find a bunker.
“I was like, I’ve just got to take a shot at it,” the 34-year-old said.
“How many shots are you going to get? I just pushed it, just very slightly.”
Matteson is enduring a dismal season - ranking 162nd on the PGA Tour money list and 565th in the world - and has not recorded a top-40 finish since November.
He has always been a player to ride a hot streak, though, as he demonstrated when he carded successive rounds of 61 en route to his second PGA Tour victory at the 2009 Frys.com Open.
“You’re going to have some rough spots in your career at some point,” he said. “I’ve been working on some new swing stuff.
“I was a little worried this morning. You’re never quite sure when it’s only been a day or two, obviously today I hit it much better.”
Matteson’s 61 was the joint second lowest score on the 2013-14 PGA Tour.
American J.J. Henry fired an 11-under 60 in the first round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, while Argentina’s Andres Romero shot 61 on the same day.
Hurley, a former U.S. Navy officer, felt that accurate driving had been the key to his score.
“I drove it really well today, hit a lot of fairways, and when you get the ball in the fairway around here, you get a lot of mid, short-irons and you can attack some flags,” he said.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes and Nick Mulvenney