CHICAGO (Reuters) - American Paul Goydos became the fourth player ever to shoot 59 in a U.S. PGA Tour event when he went 12 under par in Thursday's first round of the John Deere Classic but emerged with just a one-shot lead.
After Goydos made a dozen birdies in his bogey-free morning round, defending champion Steve Stricker birdied the last three holes for an afternoon 60 to finish one shot back at the TPC Deere Run course in Silvis, Illinois.
Goydos, 46, birdied eight of his last nine holes to close out the inward half in 28, completing the 59 by sinking a seven-foot birdie putt at the 18th.
The last player to shoot 59 in a U.S. Tour event was David Duval in the final round of the 1999 Bob Hope Classic.
"Wow, you know 59 is a pretty iconic number and I keep going 'wow'," Goydos told reporters. "It's just one of those days where I played well, I putted well, I chipped well, I thought well, and someone was smiling on me."
Goydos has struggled in recent weeks, a tie for 52nd at the Players Championship his best result in his last six events.
"All the bad bounces and all the buried balls and bunkers and three-putts or whatever that happened the last three and a half months kind of got evened out today," he said.
"It just was one of those days where every good thing that can happen happened, and every putt I hit went right in."
Goydos missed just one fairway and two greens in regulation while taking only 22 putts, sinking a 39-footer at the par-four 11th for his longest birdie.
Al Geiberger posted the U.S. Tour's first 59 at Colonial Country club in 1977. The second 59 was registered by Chip Beck at the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational.
Tied for third place at seven-under-par 64, five strokes off the pace, were fellow American Michael Letzig and Australians Aaron Baddeley, Matt Jones and James Nitties.
Players were allowed to lift, clean and place balls in fairways because of rain-softened conditions.
Goydos, a winner of two U.S. PGA events and perhaps best remembered for losing a playoff to Spaniard Sergio Garcia at the 2008 Players Championship, said his putt to break 60 gave him butterflies.
"I've had two putts that won tournaments ... but they were just barely longer than a tap-in," Goydos said. "That was the most nervous I probably have been on the golf course.
"To me, it's a bucket list kind of thing for a tour player," Goydos said. "Shooting a round in the 50s is pretty cool."
(Writing by Larry Fine in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, Editing by Frank Pingue)