Celebrating the 39th anniversary of Al Geiberger's 59

Al Geiberger
@PGATOUR on YouTube
On June 10, 1977 -- 39 years ago today -- Al Geiberger became the first player in PGA Tour history to card a score of 59.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
Connect with T.J.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Monday, August 08, 2016 | 2:06 p.m.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on June 10, 2016.

It's almost unfathomable to imagine a PGA Tour player winning a non-major without a single round in the 60s, isn't it?

But 39 years ago this week, that's precisely what Al Geiberger did in the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic. In fact, only two of Geiberger's four rounds were under par that week on the par-72 layout at Colonial Country Club (not to be confused with the club of the same name in Fort Worth, Texas).

Geiberger's 15-under 273 total was the winning mark.

Only two sub-par rounds -- neither in the 60s -- and a 15-under total, you say? How is that possible?

It's possible because on this very day -- June 10 -- 39 years ago in 1977, Geiberger carded the PGA Tour's first score of 59 (11 birdies, 1 eagle) in the second round of that tournament.

It should be noted that the lift, clean and place provision was in place during that round, but as Geiberger -- an 11-time PGA Tour winner and a member of winning U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 1967 and 1975 -- told Bill Fields at Golf Digest a few years back, that didn't matter.

"We were playing improved lies, but I don't ever remember doing it," the 1966 PGA Champion Geiberger told Fields on the 35th anniversary. "As you came off every tee, there was a dip in the terrain where they had winter kill. But the fairways, where we were playing to, were pretty nice. I think the field staff didn't want to go chalk off every canyon. Most of the low areas that were damaged, we were playing over those."

 

If your a cynic about a sub-60 score with lift, clean and place -- and, seriously, who are we to judge -- give all the credit in the world to Geiberger for what he accomplished on the bumpy, grainy Bermuda greens.

Along with hitting every fairway and every green that day, Geiberger also used just 23 putts to become golf's "Mr. 59." Of those 23 putts, nine were birdie putts outside of 10 feet -- 166 feet of birdie putts overall.

Now are you impressed?

As it can be this time of year, the weather was a bit steamy in Memphis that day with temperatures topping out at 97 degrees.

"It was a miserable day, hotter than hell, and I was trying regroup, collect my thoughts," Geiberger told Fields.

Here's a down-the-line look at Geiberger's rhythmic swing:

Since Geiberger's magical 59, there have been just five others on the PGA Tour [editor: before Jim Furyk's 58] Chip Beck (Sunrise GC in 1991); David Duval (PGA West Palmer Course in 1999); Paul Goydos (TPC Deere Run in 2010); Stuart Appleby (TPC Old White in 2010); and Jim Furyk (Conway Farms in 2013).

Annika Sorenstam remains the only player in LPGA history to shoot 59. She did it at the Standard Register PING tournament in 2001. 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.