BOISE, Idaho – Russell Knox thought his game was coming around and that he might be lined up for a score in the mid-60s. But the 28-year-old from Scotland never thought he’d make history in Friday’s second round of the Albertsons Boise Open on the Web.com Tour.
Knox had two eagles and eight birdies en route to a 12-under 59, which matched the lowest 18-hole score in Web.com Tour history. His two-day total of 14-under 128 also gave him one-stroke lead at the halfway point over Hunter Haas (67), Jamie Lovemark (62) and Bronson La’Cassie (63). Four others – Chad Collins (65), Mark Anderson (65), Steven Alker (68) and Erik Flores (63) – are tied for fifth, two shots back.
Knox rolled in a seven-foot putt for par on the final hole to cap off a nearly perfect day to become the only the fifth player on tour to post a sub-60 score.
“This is a dream come true. Everyone wants to have a chance to break 60 and this was my day,” said Knox, who added his name to the list that includes Notah Begay, Doug Dunakey, Jason Gore and Will Wilcox. “I don’t think you ever feel a 59 coming on. I definitely pictured myself playing well but you can never plan for a 59.”
After opening with a 2-under 69 Thursday afternoon, Knox started slowly Friday morning with an opening birdie followed by four consecutive pars. Knox has been consistent during his time on the Web.com Tour and PGA Tour this year but hasn’t done anything spectacular. He’s made 13 cuts in 18 combined starts with a half dozen top-25 finishes but his best week is still a tie for 12th.
“I’ve told myself every day, over and over, something good is going to happen. I keep telling my girlfriend that I’m better than the scores I’m shooting,” he said. “Starting the day I knew I had to shoot three or four under just to make the weekend.”
Knox got things moving with a birdie-eagle-birdie run starting at No. 15 and turned with a 5-under 30, solid but not spectacular given the course was hemorrhaging birdies at a record pace. The scoring average of 68.129 is the lowest single round average in the tournament’s 24-year run at Hillcrest.
“I had a par-save on number one that was pretty good,” said Knox, who then holed a 50-foot putt for eagle at No. 2. “That eagle got things going. It was probably the longest putt I’ve made all year. The rest is just a blur.”
Knox made five straight birdies after that, including big putts of 25 and 30 feet to get to 12-under with two holes to go.
“I’ve barely made anything all year and then to have four in a row of length go in was really nice,” he said. “To have to par the last two holes is difficult.”
Knox two-putted the par-3 eighth hole from 50 feet and stood on the final tee, 407 yards from history.
With his favorite club in hand, he mashed a driver that just squeezed right and settled in a fairway bunker.
“It’s my best club. I trusted it,” he said of the driver. “From the second I walked off the tee I kept saying to myself, ‘you’re the best fairway bunker player in the world.’ I said it about 50 times.”
Knox admitted fairway bunkers give him occasional trouble. His second shot was a little heavy and wound up on the green but some 70 feet from a back pin location. His birdie attempt was hole high but still a solid seven feet from the cup.
“You just can’t miss that putt, it’s that simple,” said Knox. “I don’t know how many chances I’ll ever get to shoot 59. Missing wasn’t an option. It was going in.”
Paired together in the afternoon were the tour’s most recent members of the 59 club – Gore and Wilcox, who became No. 4 in the group when he posted a 59 in the final round of the Utah Championship just two weeks ago.
“We just shook our heads because Jason got to keep his for seven years and I got to keep mine for two weeks,” chuckled Wilcox. “I can’t wait to see him. He’s a good buddy and I’m extremely happy for him. I’m not surprised at all.”
Gore was also quick to welcome a fifth member to the prestigious club.
“It was a helluva round of golf,” he said. “I saw him in the locker room and gave him a high five, but it’s not like I can teach him the secret handshake.”
--A total of 75 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 6-under 136. The 6-under cut is the lowest in the tournament’s 24-year history. The previous low of 5-under 137 came in 2010 and again last year.
--Russell Knox joins Jason Gore as players to record two eagles during his round of 59. Knox’s 59 comes two weeks after Will Wilcox shot 59 in the Utah Championship. Similarly, in 1998, Notah Begay and Dough Dunakey also posted 59s with one tournament separating them.
--Knox’s previous low round on tour was 63, which he had done twice – Round 2 of the 2011 BMW Charity Pro-Am and Round 3 of the 2011 Chiquita Classic (which he won).
--This is the first time that Knox has held the outright lead after 36 holes on the Web.com Tour. He has shared the 36-hole lead three times previously, including this year’s Stadion Classic at UGA.
--Knox has made six of eight cuts on the Web.com Tour this year and has four top-25 finishes. His best week was a tie for 12th at the Mexico Championship. He is currently No. 71 on the money list.
--Friday’s second-round scoring average of 68.129 was the lowest single-round average since the tournament began at Hillcrest Country Club in 1990. The previous low of 68.968 was set during the second round last year.
--Hunter Haas’ 129 total is his career-best on the Web.com Tour. His previous low of 130 (65-65/12 under) came in the opening two rounds of the 2008 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open.
--Erik Flores chalked up six birdies in a row to match the tournament record. Flores had his run on Nos. 12-17. Michael Muehr (1999) and Jason Kokrak (2011) also had six straight birdies.
--Chris Smith became the second player in tournament history to register three eagles in a single round. Smith had eagles on Nos. 2, 15 and 16. The second and 16th holes are par 5s, the 15th is a driveable par-4 measuring 293 yards. Bradley Iles had eagles on three par 5s (Nos. 2, 3 and 16) in the second round in 2010. Chris Smith also became the sixth player in tournament history to register back-to-back eagles and the first since Jeff Brehaut (Nos. 2-3) in the second round in 2011.