With 2015 golf in full swing, it's 59 Season already.
On Friday at the Humana Challenge, Ryan Palmer challenged for the PGA Tour's first sub-60 rounds since Jim Furyk at the 2013 BMW Championship. Though he came up short, his front-nine 27 had folks on Twitter turning to me for a ruling on when to start 59 Watch (#59watch).
LOOK BACK: Rounds of 59 or better in pro golf history
So, as a refresher, let's go over 59 Watch and when it's on...and not.
It's time to fire up 59 Watch when there's a somewhat reasonable expectation that a player will break 60. We have to consider four factors when deciding that reasonable expectation:
- How far under par a player is: For a player to be put on 59 Watch, they have to be at least as far toward a 59-or-lower round as they are in their round. For example, if a player is playing a par-71 course (so, 12 under par for 59) and they are 6 under at the turn, 59 Watch COULD be on. If through 12 holes, they're 8 under par, then it's probably still on.
- How many holes into their round they are: A player has to be at least nine holes into their round to get on 59 Watch. A player can fall off 59 Watch is they're falling behind pace, but can come back on with a sudden jolt in score, like an eagle.
- What kind of holes the player has left: If a player needs two birdies in their final three holes to shoot 59 or better, but they're the three hardest holes on the course, it's not reasonable to expect that player to get those birdies. They're off 59 Watch. Conversely, if a player is on the edge of 59 Watch with six holes to play and has two par 5s and a short par 3 left, then we shouldn't be so dismissive of the watch.
- What par is for the course in question: Shooting 59 at Kapalua's Plantation Course, a par-73 track, is almost impossible because it requires 14 birdies or some combination with an eagle that's too much. Any 59 there would be an utter surprise and no 59 Watch would be reasonable until the 17th or 18th holes. However, a par-70 track doesn't make it more likely to put a player on 59 Watch because of the lack of par 5s on the course. Caution must be exercised in declaring a 59 Watch on a par-70 course, looking at what's left for the player.
And, like with weather, we're introducing new levels of forecasting. We have 59 Watch when there's a reasonable expectation that a player could shoot 59.
Now we're adding in 59 Warning, when a player totally chokes if they don't shoot 59 or better. It'll be ultra-rare to issue, but it's an option.
Happy 59 watching!