Eighteen-year tour veteran Paul Goydos shoots a 59 in first round of PGA John Deere Classic

By John Feinstein
Friday, July 9, 2010

The first time I ever laid eyes on Paul Goydos was at the Buick Open in 1993. He was a 29-year-old PGA Tour rookie, and he had shot 66 on Thursday afternoon. Because he was the only player to go low in the late wave, he was brought into the interview room. I was about to leave, but for some reason -- kismet? -- I wandered into the back of the room on my way out the door.

The first thing I heard Paul say was this: "I'm guessing none of you have heard of me. There's a reason for that: I've never done anything."

He certainly can't make that claim anymore.

Goydos has had a very solid career. This is his 18th year on tour. He has won twice (Bay Hill in 1996; Sony Open in Hawaii in 2007) and been a very consistent money-winner. He's one of the game's most respected people: Corey Pavin asked him to be an assistant captain on the Ryder Cup team this fall, and he was just elected by his peers to the PGA Tour's policy board.

On Thursday, though, Goydos went beyond all that. Teeing off early at TPC Deere Run in the first round of the John Deere Classic, he shot a 12-under-par 59. To put the round into some perspective, here is the list of players who have shot 59 in the history of the PGA Tour: Al Geiberger, Chip Beck, David Duval -- and now, Paul Goydos.

"Most people try to shoot their age," he said afterward. "Today, I shot my height."

Paul is, in fact, 5-9.

A 59 is -- obviously -- a remarkable round of golf under any circumstances, but this one is perhaps more amazing because Paul has been playing lousy golf since February. Back then he had a chance to win at Pebble Beach before a quadruple-bogey 9 at the notorious 14th hole blew him back into a tie for fifth.

"Actually I'm encouraged," he said the next day on the phone. "Last week my 9 on the back nine on Sunday [at the Bob Hope] was on a par 3. This week it was on a par 5. I'm improving."

Since then, his best finish was a tie for 38th in Charlotte. He hasn't played a weekend since late-May, when he finished tied for 59th at Colonial.

Last week, when I saw him in Philadelphia, he was as discouraged as I've ever seen him. Paul being down on himself or on his game has to be taken with a grain of salt. For years he has described himself as "the worst player in the history of the PGA Tour." When he won in Hawaii three years ago, he quickly pointed out that Tiger Woods had won 55 tournaments since he had last won. "If I can maintain that pace, I should win again in about three years," he said then.

This time, though, he really was discouraged. When he mentioned he had not qualified for next month's PGA Championship, I pointed out that he still had a few more weeks to make enough money to qualify.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company