Now that Jim Furyk has cracked the 58 barrier in a PGA Tour event, shooting that hard-to-imagine score Sunday at TPC River Highlands in the Travelers Championship, two thoughts linger:
What is the next frontier in terms of scoring?
And, is 58 on a par-70 course better than 59 on a par 71 or 72?
Furyk’s 12-under par round is a remarkable achievement and for him to have been the last player to shoot 59 on Tour then become the first to shoot 58 makes it more incredible. For a guy who has the reputation as one of the game’s ultimate grinders, Furyk has shown a gift for going hyper-low that no one else can match.
The 58 stands alone because it’s the first time it’s been done on the PGA Tour. If Al Geiberger’s 59 all those years ago in Memphis was the equivalent of cracking the four-minute mile, Furyk’s round lowered the mile time by another 10 seconds just because it changed the record-low number.
To me, Geiberger’s 59 at Colonial Country Club remains the most impressive of the sub-60 rounds because he did it with wooden clubs and balata golf balls on a 7,193-yard, par 72 course in 1977.
That doesn’t diminish what Chip Beck, David Duval, Paul Goydos, Stuart Appleby and Furyk subsequently did but Geiberger’s 59 is a bit like Neil Armstrong having the distinction of being the first man on the moon.
Geiberger, Beck and Duval are also the only players to shoot 13-under par on a Tour course. Goydos and Furyk shot 59 on par-71 courses while Appleby’s came on the par-70 Old White Course at the Greenbrier.
There are, in effect, dual gold standards in terms of Tour scoring records now – 58 for the low total and 13-under par for the lowest under par. Is one better than the other? That’s like choosing between near-perfect diamonds.
So what’s next?
If 13-under is possible, then 14-under must be out there someplace especially with so many players able to reach most par-5s in two shots these days.
Furyk changed the notion of what can be done on Sunday. He won’t be the last one.