On his opening tee shot Thursday at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., Brandt Snedeker badly snap-hooked a 3-wood into the trees down the left side of Sedgefield Country Club's 10th hole. He went on to bogey the hole, which is nothing a tour pro couldn't recover from, but it wasn't the most confidence-inspiring way to begin a tournament.
But Snedeker did more than just recover as he went on to play the round of his life, carding an 11-under 59 even with that bogey, marking the 10th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history and making him just the ninth player to ever accomplish the feat (Jim Furyk has done it twice). It was also good enough for a four-shot lead over Ryan Moore and John Oda.
Making the round all the more impressive was the fact that the eight-time tour winner was still one over through three holes before he went on his first run of four consecutive birdies, two of which came from 26 feet. Two more pars at 17 and 18 gave him a front-nine 32, meaning he needed to shoot something out of this world on the back nine for 59 to even come into consideration.
Even after Snedeker birdied four of his first five holes on his back nine he was still only at seven under with four holes to go. He needed to play that closing stretch in four under, and he took a big chunk out of that, and the cup, at the par-4 sixth, flying a 7-iron directly in the hole for eagle to get to nine under. At the par-3 seventh he put his tee shot to within three feet, cleaning up another birdie and needing just one more on the final two holes for 59, which he was well aware of.
"Really cool feeling to be standing on eight tee and tell myself if I hit two fairways I'm going to shoot 59," said Snedeker. "Because they were both birdie holes and I felt like I could get it done the way I was playing."
He did hit the fairway at the eighth, and then hit his approach to six feet, all but locking up another birdie with the way he was putting. But he missed, forcing himself to have to make birdie at his final hole. Facing a 20-footer on the ninth green, Snedeker came up clutch and rolled it in, letting out a huge celebration as he made history.
"To know what you're trying to do, step up there and have a 20-footer and know what it means, I was very aware of what was going on,"he said. "To knock that in was very special. To know that I'm part of a small club on tour, not many people have done this, really cool feeling right now."
And to think without a bogey at the first, and that short miss at No. 8, it could have been even better.
"Missed a short one on eight from about four feet that could have made it even more special, but happy with the way everything turned out."
Per Golf Channel's Justin Ray, Snedeker became the first player in history to shoot a sub-60 after being over par at any point during the round. He's also only the third player to break 60 with a bogey, something only Justin Thomas and Jim Furyk had previously done. Still, while incredible, memorable and one that cements his place in golf history, there's more work to be done this week.
"I'm very aware there's a lot of golf left," Snedeker said. "This means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of this golf tournament. Eighteen-to-24-under par seems to win here every year. So I'm going to have to make a lot more birdies to be around on Sunday. That being said, I'm off to a great start, build on the day and hopefully do what some guys have been able to do here and that's run away."
If he does go on to win, it will make him only the fifth player to go on to win the same event that he shot 59 in. The last to do it was Thomas at the 2017 Sony Open in Hawaii.
Moore and Oda, the latter playing in just his 10th PGA Tour event, are still within striking distance following their opening-round 63s, both bogey-free. Oda has quietly impressed in his limited starts this season, finishing eighth in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and posting a T-3 at the Barracuda Championship. For Moore, the first-round 63 is his lowest on tour since a final-round 64 at the 2016 Tour Championship, where he lost in a three-way playoff with Kevin Chappell and Rory McIlroy. The 2016 Ryder Cup team member has struggled to find similar form since, having finished inside the top 10 just six times in his last 43 starts on tour.
Seven players are tied for fourth at six under, including Ollie Schniederjans, who nearly captured his maiden victory here a year ago but came up one-shot short of winner Henrik Stenson.
American Ryder Cup team captain Jim Furyk carded a five-under 65, while Sergio Garcia, who is in need of a strong week to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs (131st in the standings), shot a four-under 66.