Hayden Springer leading John Deere Classic after opening round of 59

SILVIS, Ill. (AP) – Hayden Springer posted the 14th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history on Thursday, joining a rapidly expanding list with an eagle-birdie finish in the John Deere Classic for a 12-under 59.

Springer shot 27 on the front nine of rain-softened TPC Deere Run and tried to block out thoughts of a 59 or better. Then he made five straight pars and figured the chance had passed until he holed a 55-yard shot for eagle on the par-5 17th.

Needing a birdie for golf’s magic number, his approach caught the slope and left him 12 feet short, and the putt was true all the way.

“Kind of at loss for words in terms of being able to do that,” Springer said. “I feel like that’s one of the rare things in golf, so to have that opportunity and pull it off, it feels pretty special.”

The PGA Tour record is a 58 by Jim Furyk at the Travelers Championship in 2016. Furyk also is among 13 players with a 59.

Any score that starts with a 5 remains special, although it is not quite as rare as it once was as players get better each year. Springer became the second player in three weeks to break 60. Cameron Young also had a 59 at the Travelers Championship.

On golf tours worldwide, it was the eighth sub-60 round. The lowest was a 57 by Cristobal del Solar of Chile in a Korn Ferry Tour event in Colombia.

Springer tied the record at the TPC Deere Run. Paul Goydos shot a 59 in the first round of the John Deere Classic in 2010. Goydos had only a one-shot lead that year – Steve Stricker shot 60 the same day – and Stricker went on to win.

Springer played in the morning and had a four-shot lead over Harry Hall among the early starters. Overnight rain and virtually no wind left the TPC Deere Run vulnerable, and players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the short grass.

Still, Springer had reason to believe early on this might be a special day. He holed a 12-foot eagle putt on the second hole and chipped in from 60 feet for birdie on the next one. He birdied the next three holes, and then closed out the front nine with birdie putts of 3 feet and 7 feet.

It was the birdie putt from 15 feet on the fringe that got him thinking how low he could go.

“I was like: ‘OK, I feel like I’m not missing today. I’m pretty much holing any putt I look at,’” he said. “So probably that putt going in was kind of the trigger of, ‘OK, we might be able to go super low.’”

Springer had missed five straight cuts, putting him in danger of losing his card. He played a Korn Ferry Tour event during the week of the U.S. Open – he tied for 54th – and spent time with his longtime swing coach before registering a tie for 10th last week in Detroit.

If that was progress, then this was a giant leap.

But then, Springer already knows about handling the toughest of times. His infant daughter, Sage, was diagnosed in 2021 with Trisomy 18 – also known as Edwards Syndrome – in which babies are born with three copies of chromosome 18 instead of two.

Such infants typically don’t make it 72 hours. Sage was 3 when she died on Nov. 13, just a month before Springer faced Q-school. He had enough emotional capacity left to get his PGA Tour card, and now he’s in the record book with a sub-60 round.

“I don’t know if it gives me inner strength, but definitely tests you and you kind of have to find ways to work through it and to continue to move forward,” Springer said. “Most of that is our faith for us, just leaning into that and knowing that we’re secure in that.

“We’ve had some challenging things happen,” he said. “But at the end of the day I also want to compete and I love doing that.

Kevin Chappell was among those at 64. Conditions were so conducive to scoring that 12 players from the morning wave were at 65 or lower. Jordan Spieth was not among them. He had to scramble for a 69, and his first step Friday will be making the cut.

As for Springer, he became the fourth player on the PGA Tour with a 59 in the opening round. Justin Thomas (Sony Open in 2017) and Brandt Snedeker (Wyndham Championship in 2018) went on to win. The exception was Goydos at the John Deere Classic.

First appeared on www.kwqc.com

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