Hayden Springer shoots 59 at John Deere Classic

Syndication: Desert SunHayden Springer approaches his ball on the 11th green during Round 2 of The American Express at La Quinta Country Club in La Quinta, Calif., Friday, Jan. 19, 2024.

Hayden Springer used an unlikely eagle-birdie finish to shoot a 12-under 59 to open the John Deere Classic on Thursday, marking the 14th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history.

Springer will head into Friday with a two-shot lead over Finland’s Sami Valimaki, who made 11 birdies in his round of 61. Eric Cole is close behind in third at 9-under 62.

“I don’t even really have words,” Springer said. “Like, I’m still shaking a little bit.”

Springer fired an 8-under 27 on the front nine at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. — the lowest nine-hole score on tour since 2000 — then went quiet for several holes. He was 9 under through 16 holes when he holed out from the rough for eagle at the par-5 17th.

That put him one birdie away from the elusive 59.

“When it went in on 17 I immediately knew, ‘OK, now I have a chance,’” Springer said. “I mean, I didn’t ever think I would make that shot really, but it kind of changed the momentum to actually be able to go shoot 59.”

He found the center of the 18th fairway, put his second shot about 12 1/2 feet from the pin and drained the putt center-cup.

Springer said he was a boy watching at home the last time a player shot 59 at the John Deere Classic — Paul Goydos in 2010. With scoring conditions as ripe as they were, Goydos was not even able to win that tournament, being surpassed by Steve Stricker.

“Tomorrow is a new day. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Springer said. “Just try and do the exact same thing I do pretty much every day and go through the same routine, same process, and go from there.”

Springer’s round also included a 13-foot eagle putt at the par-5 second hole, followed by a chip-in birdie at the par-3 third. He birdied three more in a row, from 10, 20 and 17 feet away.

It marked the second 59 on tour in the span of three weeks after nobody had shot sub-60 since 2020. Cameron Young posted a 59 in the third round of the Travelers Championship.

Springer, 27, is ranked No. 236 in the world and has never won on the PGA Tour. He turned pro in 2019. After losing his card, he earned his way back on tour via Q-school last December.

Springer said going back to his former coach has helped him after a difficult start to his season.

“Her name is Rosey Bartlett. She’s coached me since I was 6 years old,” Springer said. “So I took a little break from her for a couple years and then just these last — before last week, these last six tournaments missing those cuts I felt like I needed to get something going, so she was able to help me.”

Valimaki’s 61 was a career low on the PGA Tour, but he is still looking up at Springer.

“I saw him, actually, in I think it was my seventh hole,” Valimaki said. “I was like, OK, I need to keep shooting lower and lower. Quite didn’t catch it, but still a good round.”

Cole stayed bogey-free with nine birdies. The 36-year-old, like the two players in front of him, is still hunting for his first win on the PGA Tour.

“The scores are historically pretty low at this tournament,” Cole said, “so whether someone shoots 61, 59, doesn’t make a huge difference as far as any strategy. Still trying to hit good shots and give yourself as many birdie chances as you can get.”

Four players are tied for fourth at 8-under 63: Davis Thompson, Englishman Harry Hall, Chan Kim and amateur Luke Clanton, a Florida State golfer who tied for 10th at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. A number of players shot 64, including Denny McCarthy, Lucas Glover and Ireland’s Seamus Power. Glover won the 2021 John Deere Classic.

Jordan Spieth is in danger of missing the cut after a pedestrian 2-under 69 left him outside the top 65 and ties who’ll make the weekend after Friday’s round.

–Field Level Media

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