A few weeks ago we ranked the four 59’s in the history of the PGA TOUR from most to least impressive. We didn’t think we would have to do it again so soon, but here we are trying to see where Stuart Appleby’s final round 59 on Sunday at the Greenbrier Classic fits amongst the other great rounds.
First, lets look at the really big argument as to why Stuart’s 59 should be near the top of the list: it happened right in the thick of the final round. Appleby was fighting for a tournament win, which has to hold a lot of water. He needed every single stroke down the stretch and he knew it. And this wasn’t an early tee time, pressure-free final round. He was Playing just a couple of holes ahead of the final pairing and Appleby knew he needed to go birdie-birdie-birdie to shoot 59 and have a chance to win the event. And he did it.
Now to the list of reasons why this wasn’t the best 59 of all-time. Unfortunately for Stuart, there’s a few of them. First, everyone went low. A 60, 61, 62 and ten 63’s were shot during the week. There was a “59” watch in nearly every round. Scoring was so low that James Nitties shot a 63 in round 2 and still missed the cut. The next lowest score during the final round was a 63 and two 64’s.
Second, the course was playing soft and quite short by today’s PGA TOUR standards. Eight of the par-4’s played at 412 yards or less, which means, including the two par 5’s, the modern TOUR-Pro likely had a wedge approach or less on at least 10 of the 18 holes. Add in The Greenbrier’s 2,500 foot elevation and you have a course that was playing very short and very easy for the world’s best golfers.
The other big strike against calling Appleby’s 59 the best ever is that it occurred on a Par 70 course. Believe it or not, his was the first 59 shot on a par-70 course, so he was “only” 11-under par compared to Geiberger, Duval, and Beck who were 13-under and Goydos who was 12-under.
With all that in mind, it was a close call but we place Appleby’s 59 just a shade behind Chip Beck’s but comfortably ahead of Paul Goydos. Beck had a larger margin over the next best round of the day (6 strokes to 4) and was 13-under par compared to Appleby’s 11-under. We just couldn’t quite convince ourselves that Appleby deserved to be higher than Beck, although we wouldn’t argue much if someone says he should be.
Here is our updated list ranking the PGA TOUR’s 59’s:
- Al Geiberger
- David Duval
- Chip Beck
- Stuart Appleby
- Paul Goydos