With four holes remaining in Kevin Sutherland's round, it felt like we'd seen this story before.
You know the one: Golfer gets off to obscenely hot start. Golfer starts thinking about obscenely hot start. Golfer cools off while still thinking about obscenely hot start. Golfer posts impressive yet ultimately disappointing score after cooling off while thinking about obscenely hot start.
It happens every few weeks. Someone on a major tour will make the turn after a front-nine 30 - or better – and it will prompt an outburst of #59Watch hashtags, only to finish with a 63 or 64 that feels like a letdown by comparison.
Through 14 holes at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open on Saturday, it appeared that Sutherland was going to suffer a similar fate. He'd started his round with the requisite obscenely hot 28 on the front and was 11 under through 11 holes. On the next three, though, he could "only" manage pars.
As the story so often goes, Sutherland admitted that he was pondering golf’s magic number.
"When I was 9 under after eight, I started thinking 59,” he later explained. “Earlier than I should … but it worked out all right."
That’s because a funny thing happened on his way to a comparatively disappointing 63. The man who turned 50 last month followed those three straight pars with three straight birdies. All of a sudden, that #59Watch became #58Watch and, yes, even #57Watch.
With an eagle and 12 birdies on the par-72 track, those circled red numbers on the scorecard were enough to give Sutherland some cushion on the final hole - and he needed it. After driving his ball into the trees down the right side of the par 4, he failed to get up and down from short of the green, missing a 6-foot par putt to finish with a bogey and one of the rarest golf feats you'll ever see.
A 59 that some were referring to in the aftermath as "disappointing."
Don’t buy into that narrative, though.
Such an argument is oxymoronic at best and just plain moronic at worst. There’s no such thing as a sub-60 score that ever yielded anything less than exhilaration.
Anyone who doesn’t believe that needed only see the look on Sutherland’s face after he’d polished off the first-ever 59 in Champions Tour history.
Awash in a contented smile, he asked rhetorically, "Who would have thought you'd bogey the last hole and still feel great?"
It was a historic day for the senior circuit as a whole – and Sutherland especially.
For the rest of his life, he’ll be remembered as the first player on the tour to break 60. He’ll be pressed for details, asked how everything happened.
And every time, Sutherland will be able to smile and answer: "Well, I missed a putt for 58 ..."