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Hayden Springer records 14th 60-under round in PGA Tour history with his eagle-birdie for a 59

SILVIS, Ill. — Hayden Springer shot the 14th 60-under round in PGA Tour history on Thursday, joining a rapidly expanding list with an eagle-birdie at the John Deere Classic for a 12-under 59.

All it took was a two-shot lead over Sami Valimaki on a rain-softened TPC Deere Run so vulnerable to scoring that only 13 of the 156 players in the field were above par.

Springer shot 27 on the front nine and tried to block thoughts of a 59 or better. Then he made five straight pars and thought the chance had passed until he holed a 55-yard shot for eagle on the par-5 17th.

Needing a birdie for golf’s magic number, his approach took the slope and left it 12 feet away, and the putt landed all the way.

“I’m a little lost for words in terms of being able to do that,” Springer said. “I think it’s one of the rare things in golf, so to have that opportunity and to do that, it’s a pretty special feeling.”

The PGA Tour record is a 58 by Jim Furyk at the Travelers Championship in 2016. Furyk is also among 13 players with a 59.

Every score that starts with a 5 remains special, even if it is not as rare as it once was, as players improve every year. Springer became the second player in three weeks to go under 60. Cameron Young also shot a 59 at the Travelers Championship.

On golf tours around the world, it was the eighth round under 60. The lowest was a 57 by Cristobal del Solar of Chile in a Korn Ferry Tour event in Colombia.

Springer tied the record at TPC Deere Run. Paul Goydos shot a 59 in the first round of the 2010 John Deere Classic. Goydos had a one-shot lead that year: Steve Stricker shot a 60 the same day and went on to win.

Valimaki, who was playing in the afternoon, noticed Springer’s 59 as he played the first nine holes.

“I think it was my seventh hole,” Valimaki said. “I thought, ‘OK, I’ve got to keep hitting it lower and lower.’ I didn’t get it, but it was still a good round.”

Eric Cole shot 62, while the group at 63 included Florida State sophomore Luke Clanton, who tied for 10th last week in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Lucas Glover, on the wrong side of the playoff bubble with five weeks to go in the FedEx Cup playoffs, shot 64.

Players were allowed to lift, clean and place golf balls in the short grass.

Springer had reason to believe from the start that this could be a special day, though. He holed a 12-foot putt for eagle on the second hole and chipped in a 60-footer for birdie on the next. He birdied the next three holes, then closed out the front nine with birdie putts of 3 feet and 7 feet.

It was the 15-foot birdie putt on the fringe of the sixth hole that made him wonder how low he could fall.

“I was like, ‘OK, I feel like I’m not going to miss today. I’m pretty much sinking any putt I see,'” he said. “So that putt going in was probably kind of the trigger for, ‘OK, we might be able to go really low.'”

Springer had missed five consecutive cuts, nearly losing his card. He played a Korn Ferry Tour event during U.S. Open week, finishing tied for 54th, and spent time with his longtime swing coach before posting a tie for 10th last week in Detroit.

If this were progress, then it would be a giant leap.

But then, Springer already knows how to handle the most difficult moments. Her daughter, Sage, was diagnosed in 2021 with trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, in which babies are born with three copies of chromosome 18 instead of two.

These babies typically don’t make it past 72 hours. Sage was 3 when she died on Nov. 13, just a month before Springer faced Q School. She still had enough emotional capacity to earn her PGA Tour card, and she’s now in the record books with a round under 60.

“I don’t know if it gives me inner strength, but it definitely tests you and you have to find a way to get through it and keep moving forward,” Springer said. “A lot of it is our faith for us, just leaning into it and knowing that we’re confident in it.

“We’ve had some challenging things,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I also want to compete and I enjoy doing that.”

Kevin Chappell was among those at 64. Conditions were so favorable to scoring that 12 players in the morning wave were at 65 or lower. Jordan Spieth was not among them. He had to fight for a 69 and his first step on Friday will be to make the cut.

As for Springer, he became the fourth PGA Tour player with an opening-round 59. Justin Thomas (2017 Sony Open) and Brandt Snedeker (2018 Wyndham Championship) went on to win. The exception was Goydos at the John Deere Classic.

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