Valdosta State golfer shoots 58 at Ponte Vedra's Lagoon Course

By Garry Smits
Published on
Valdosta State golfer shoots 58 at Ponte Vedra's Lagoon Course

Davis Roche's comment said it all: "It kind of freaks me out."

The Bishop Kenny graduate and Valdosta State junior is still a bit stunned by an accomplishment that will resonate in First Coast golf history for ages. Roche shot a 12-under-par 58 on Wednesday at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club Lagoon Course, the first recorded instance of any player shooting 58 at an area golf course.

Roche, who was playing with his father, Bobby, made 11 birdies, a chip-in eagle at the par-4 second hole and shrugged off a bogey at the par-4 sixth hole to play his last 12 holes at 8-under.

It could have easily been lower. Roche lipped out for birdie at No. 8 and missed a 30-foot birdie attempt for a 57 at the par-4 18th hole. He parred Nos. 5, 7, 8 and 12 in addition to the closing hole.

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There have been two 59s at the Lagoon course, a 6,000-yard track that historically plays tougher than its yardage shows. Richard Ames shot 59 at the Lagoon in the first round of the 1992 Gate Invitational and Marsh Creek head pro Cary Splane shot 59 in a Gate practice round in 2010.

There have been three other recorded 59s in area history. Julian Suri of St. Augustine during a recreational round at Royal St. Augustine last April; Scot Regner at the Oak Bridge member-guest in 1988; and Matt Jackson at the old Dunes course in the mid-1980s.

Kevin Aylwin, a former University of North Florida golfer, had a 59 at the New Smyrna Beach Golf Club in 2013. Russell Knox, who played college golf at Jacksonville University, shot 59 at the 2013 Albertson's Boise Open.

Of course the most famous score by an area golfer was by Jim Furyk of Ponte Vedra Beach. The 17-time PGA Tour winner broke the PGA Tour 18-hole record with a 58 at the TPC River Highlands in August during the final round of the Travelers Championship.

Furyk heard of Roche's score at the Lagoon and texted him congratulations.

"It feels pretty good," Roche said. "A lot of good players have played a lot of good golf in this area and it's a great accomplishment to shoot that kind of score."

Roche birdied the first hole on a 25-foot putt and despite his chip-in at No. 2 and birdie putts of 12 and 6 feet on the next two holes, he wasn't thinking 58 -- or even 59.

"I knew I was going pretty deep at that point," he said. "I was feeling pretty good but I'm not sure I was thinking that kind of number."

His father brought it up for the first time.

"I told him after five or six that Jim Furyk had a pretty good day," Bobby Roche said. "It was like a dream after that. It went by so fast."

Davis turned in 5-under and was kicking himself for not making a 20-foot eagle putt at the par-5 ninth.

But he dropped a 12-foot birdie putt at No. 10, pitched to within 1 foot for birdie at No. 11 and after parring No. 12, he chipped in for birdie at No. 13.

Roche followed with a 4-footer for birdie at No. 14 and then came up with his third chip-in of the day for birdie at the short par-4 15th to get his score to 10-under.

He made birdie putts of 20 and 10 feet on the next two holes and then two-putted at the last to secure the final score.

The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club historically recognizes only course records shot in competition. Bobby Roche attests to the fact that his son played the back tees, played every shot as it lay and putted out on every green.

Both understand there will be skeptics.

"Anyone who has played golf with Davis knows how he respects the game," Bobby Roche said. "He's called penalties on himself since he started playing the game."

Indeed, Davis Roche's previous low score, a 66 at Normandy Shores in Miami during a college tournament, included a one-stroke penalty he assessed on himself when his ball moved on the green as he was addressing it.

"I understand how a golf club recognizes scores and course records," Davis Roche said. "But at the end of the day, a 58 is a 58."

Bobby Roche has watched his son win tournaments at the junior, high school and score high finishes in college. He said there's nothing so far that can top the father-and-son day they had at the Lagoon.

"It was the coolest thing," he said. "It's a memory for a lifetime."

This article was written by Garry Smits from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.