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Hayden Springer scores the 14th round under 60 in PGA Tour history with his eagle-birdie finish and a 59-stroke

SILVIS, Illinois: Hayden Springer shot his 14th under 60 round in PGA Tour history on Thursday, joining a fast-growing list with an eagle-birdie finish at the John Deere Classic and a score of 12-under 59.

All he managed was a two-shot lead over Sami Valimaki on a rain-soaked TPC Deere run that was so score-prone that only 13 players in the 156-strong field were over par.

Springer shot a 27 on the first nine holes and tried to banish thoughts of a 59 or better. He then made five straight pars and thought the chance was over until he holed a 55-yard shot for an eagle on the par-5 17th.

He needed a birdie to hit golf’s magic number, but his approach shot hit the slope and missed by 12 feet, and the putt was on target the whole time.

“I’m a little lost for words when I think about the fact that I’ve done this,” Springer said. “I think it’s one of the rare things in golf, so it’s a very special feeling to have this opportunity and to pull it off.”

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

Any score that starts with a 5 remains special, although it’s not as rare as it once was as players get better each year. Springer was the second player in three weeks to break the 60 mark. Cameron Young also shot a 59 at the Travelers Championship.

It was the eighth round under 60 on golf tours around the world. The best round was achieved by Chilean Cristobal del Solar with a 57 at a Korn Ferry Tour event in Colombia.

Springer tied the record at the TPC Deere Run. Paul Goydos shot a 59 in the first round of the 2010 John Deere Classic. Goydos was only one stroke ahead that year – Steve Stricker shot a 60 the same day to win.

Valimaki, who played 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 have to keep hitting it deeper.’ I didn’t manage it, but it was still a good round.”

Eric Cole had a 62, while the 63 group included Florida State sophomore Luke Clanton, who finished 10th in last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. Lucas Glover, who was on the wrong side of the postseason bubble five weeks before the FedEx Cup playoffs, shot a 64.

Players were allowed to pick up their golf balls, clean them and place them in the short grass.

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

It was the 15-foot birdie putt on the fringe of the sixth hole that got him thinking about how deep he could hit it.

“I thought to myself, ‘OK, I don’t think I’m going to miss today. I’m pretty much holed every putt I see,'” he said. “So that putt that went in was probably the catalyst for me to think, ‘OK, we could maybe hit it super deep.'”

Springer had missed five straight cuts and was in danger of losing his card. He played in a Korn Ferry Tour event the week of the U.S. Open – he finished tied for 54th – and spent time with his longtime swing coach before finishing tied for 10th in Detroit last week.

If that was progress, it was a huge step.

But Springer also knows how to deal with the most difficult times. His little daughter Sage was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 in 2021 – also known as Edwards syndrome. Babies are born with three copies of chromosome 18 instead of two.

Such infants typically don’t survive 72 hours. Sage was 3 when she died on Nov. 13, just a month before Springer competed in Q-School. He still had enough emotional capacity to get his PGA Tour card, and now he’s in the record books with a round under 60.

“I don’t know if it gives me inner strength, but it’s definitely a challenge and you have to find ways to deal with it and keep going,” Springer said. “Most of it is our faith, we just trust in it and know that we have safety in it.”

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

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

Springer, on the other hand, was the fourth player on the PGA Tour to shoot a 59 in the first round. Justin Thomas (Sony Open 2017) and Brandt Snedeker (Wyndham Championship 2018) went on to win. The exception was Goydos at the John Deere Classic.

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