Paul Goydos: From 59 to Fighting For His British Open Life
By Merf under PGA Tour

It wasn’t like this week was going to be a slam dunk for Paul Goydos. When he became just the fourth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59, Goydos only held a one-stroke lead over Steve Stricker after the first round of the John Deere Classic. But if it was any consolation, Goydos’ 59 also gave him a five-stroke edge in the tournament within the tournament — the race for a last-chance British Open berth.

But after backing up his 12-under 59 with a 68 and 67, Goydos has fallen six strokes behind Stricker, who set a 54-hole PGA Tour record with his 25-under 188 (60-66-62). And while the 46-year-old Goydos surely hasn’t given up on the chance to win a PGA Tour event for just the third time in 448 starts, he also has to fend off a pack of golfers playing for second place and a berth to the British Open via the top non-exempt finisher at the John Deere.

Goydos is tied for second at 19-under with Jeff Maggert, who is also playing for a berth into the British Open. In fact, only two of the top 15 players on the leader board already have a spot in the British Open. (Stricker and John Senden, who is tied for seventh at 12-under, are the only ones in.)

(Update: Maggert has a family vacation scheduled next week. “I wouldn’t say it’s a definite that I will be going” to St. Andrews.)

Shooting a 59 hasn’t been an automatic win on the PGA Tour. Al Geiberger and David Duval both won, but Chip Beck’s 59 in the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational only led to a third-place finish.

A third-place finish probably won’t be enough to send Goydos to St. Andrews. Goydos and Maggert are three strokes ahead of Australian Matt Jones. U.S. Open first-round leader Shaun Micheel, who has played inspired golf while his mother is dying of cancer, is four back of second place after a third-round 63. And the former PGA champion knows what’s at stake.

When I came up here I knew there was one more opportunity to get in. You know, I’m packed. I brought sweaters.

Not to be discounted is the play of Mr. John Deere, Stricker, who still has some incentive, too. The defending champ shot 20-under last year, and he is six strokes behind Ernie Els’ four-round PGA Tour record of 31-under at the 2003 Mercedes Championship. Stricker also has 27 birdies (nine a day!), and he’s first in putts per GIR.

But maybe the most staggering stat is Stricker’s tied for eighth in GIR, despite hitting 83.3 percent. Goydos is first at 92.6 percent.

[AP Photo/Gary Krambeck]