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Sunday, August 17, 2014

59 -- It's Not Just a Champion's Age Anymore

Several players on the PGA Tour have shot 59, as have a few Tour players. The LPGA only has one -- Annika shot that -- but that still makes her a member of the club.

And now the Champions Tour has its first member to the 59 club, Kevin Sutherland.

Kevin Sutherland

And just like Jim Furyk last year, he had one bogey on the round -- a 3-putt on 18. Coulda been a 58 otherwise!

The reason I'm fascinated by Kevin's accomplishment is his mindset. Most players say they try to think about ANYTHING except shooting 59. But here's what Kevin told
Sutherland, playing in only his third Champions Tour event since turning 50 in June, recalls asking some of the players at the start of the week if anyone had ever shot 59 on the senior circuit and was surprised it had not been done.
He would not have seemed a likely candidate. Sutherland's career-low round on the PGA TOUR was a 62 in the 2010 Canadian Open. Even at home in Sacramento, California, he never seriously came close to golf's magic number.
On Saturday at En-Joie Golf Club, he couldn't miss.
Sutherland opened with four straight birdies -- two of them longer than 30 feet -- and hit hybrid into 6 feet for eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He ran off three more birdies, including a bunker shot he holed on No. 7 that hit the pin instead of rolling 10 feet away.
Sure enough, after thinking about a 59, he made par on No. 9 to go out in 27.
"When I was 9 under after eight I was like, `That goes beyond being a good start,'" Sutherland said. "At that point I started thinking, `What do you have to do to shoot 59.' I started thinking maybe earlier than you should be, but it worked out all right."
Not only did the gallery begin to grow, Sutherland said the players ahead would watch him hit into the green. He made a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 11 for his second straight birdie, and then settled down for three straight pars.
"It got to the point where I didn't want to disappoint them," Sutherland said. "I had a 10-footer on 13 and missed it, and you would have thought I stole their young. They were really into it."
He drove onto the par-4 16th hole for a two-putt birdie to reach 13 under, and then he stuffed his approach to tap-in distance on the 17th, leaving him a par away from 58.
"I wasn't nervous all day, but I was nervous on 18," he said. "You don't get that chance very often."
Think about what Kevin said for a moment. "At that point [9 under after eight] I started thinking, `What do you have to do to shoot 59?'" And he had asked about 59s earlier in the week. This is a player who is consciously thinking about shooting 59. He's not worried about whether he can do it or not. He's not worried about what barriers might be in the way. He just played his game and let it happen. And he says he plans to play today without comparing today's score to yesterday's.

To quote Yoda, "There is do or do not. There is no try."

Look, I'm not going to tell you this is a magic mental talisman that will make you move mountains of strokes off your scorecard. But I think there IS some magic in being free enough to simply go out and see what you can do. Don't worry about the odds against it or how you've played in the past. Think instead about how you can shave a stroke off your score on this hole or that hole, then see if you can do it.

This is a game. Why not try just playing it for a change?

It got Kevin Sutherland into the history books. Who knows what it might do for you?

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