SILVIS, Ill. — After four months of pretty lousy play on the PGA Tour, Paul Goydos managed to turn things around just a bit — he shot a 59.
Out of nowhere.
"Today was a nuclear bomb," Goydos said. "I don't know where it came from. If I knew that, I wouldn't be able to touch it."
Perhaps just as amazing, Goydos led by only one stroke. Defending champion Steve Stricker shot a 60 — and just missed tying Goydos on the last hole.
Goydos has missed almost as many cuts as he's made. He hasn't had a top-40 finish since early May. He led the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February by a stroke with five holes to play, only to tumble out of contention with an embarrassing quadruple-bogey 9 on No. 14.
"I've been very good at playing poorly now for the last 10 tournaments or so," Goydos said.
Goydos, with only two victories in his 18 years on the PGA Tour, became only the fourth player in tour history to shoot a 59 with an amazing opening round at the John Deere Classic on Thursday.
His tee shots found the middle of the fairway. His approaches stuck on the green. And, most importantly, his putts found the middle of the cup over and over again.
Stricker's almost did, too.
His second shot on the par-4 18th bounced on the green and appeared to be heading for the cup. But it curled around at the last second, leaving him an easy 2-footer for the 11th birdie in his bogey-free round.
He kept alive his hopes of catching Goydos by salvaging par on No. 14 after hitting into a bunker left of the green. After another par on 15, Stricker closed with three straight birdies.
Goydos, who hasn't won on the tour since 2007, needed just 22 putts to dominate the par-71 TPC Deere Run course. It was the first 59 on the tour since David Duval's memorable final round helped him win the 1999 Bob Hope Classic.
Goydos birdied every hole on the back nine except for No. 15, where he holed a 6-foot par putt to keep alive his hopes. He finished off with three birdies, the last one from 7 feet to join the most exclusive club in golf.
Goydos' 8-under 28 on the back nine matched the lowest nine-hole score in relation to par on the PGA Tour, last achieved by Corey Pavin, who had an 8-under 26 in the first round of the 2006 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.
Goydos, No. 137 in the world ranking, is a most unlikely member of the 59 club.
Wie opens with 11-over 82
OAKMONT, Pa. — Temperatures were in the 90s. Michelle Wie was in the 80s. On a demanding day when tough old Oakmont Country Club illustrated again that playing par golf can be an achievement, only Brittany Lang was in the 60s.
Lang withstood Oakmont's slick, sun-browned greens and the unrelenting heat to shoot a 2-under 69 on Thursday and take a one-shot lead over 2008 champion Inbee Park, amateur Kelli Shean and three others in the first round of the U.S. Women's Open.
Cristie Kerr, America's first world No. 1-ranked golfer following her monumental 12-shot win at the LPGA Championship two weeks ago, was among a more-than-crowded group of 14 at 1-over 72.
For one-time wunderkind Wie (11-over 82), it was a day of misery. The world No. 10-ranked golfer and the LPGA Tour's longest driver didn't alter her aggressive style on a course that demands patience and persistence.
"I had a couple of good shots out there," she said. "Not many."
McDowell opens 6 back
LUSS, Scotland — Darren Clarke upstaged fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell with a 6-under 65 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Scottish Open on Thursday.
McDowell, returning to tournament golf and his European Tour roots for the first time since his win at the U.S. Open, shot a 71 on a blustery day at Loch Lomond.
McDowell birdied his final two holes to finish alongside Phil Mickelson, who was making his first appearance in Europe since winning the Masters in April.
They were both 44 places down the leader board behind Clarke.