July 16th, 2024

Hayden Springer posts sub-60 round in John Deere Classic with eagle-birdie finish for 59


By The Associated Press on July 4, 2024.

FILE - Hayden Springer hits from the fourth tee during the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament at Detroit Country Club, Sunday, June 30, 2024, in Detroit. Hayden Springer posted the 14th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history when he finished eagle-birdie in the John Deere Classic on Thursday, July 4, 2024, for a 12-under 59. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

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

All that got him was a two-shot lead over Sami Valimaki on a rain-softened TPC Deere Run so vulnerable to scoring that only 13 players in the 156-man field were over par.

Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., posted a 7-under-64, Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., went 5-under and Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., 4-under in the opening round.

Springer shot 27 on the front nine 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 a 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.

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 went on to win.

Valimaki, playing in the afternoon, noticed Springer’s 59 as he played the front nine.

“I think it was my seventh hole,” Valimaki said. “I was like, “˜OK, I need to keep shooting lower and lower.’ Didn’t catch it, but still a good round.”

Eric Cole had a 62, while the group at 63 included Florida State sophomore Luke Clanton, who tied for 10th last week in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Lucas Glover, on the wrong side of the post-season bubble with five weeks to go before the FedEx Cup playoffs, shot 64.

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 three feet and seven feet.

It was the birdie putt from 15 feet on the fringe on the sixth hole 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 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.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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