Pettersson sets Open record

Carl Pettersson at the Canadian Open Golf tournament in Toronto July 24, 2010. (MIKE...

Carl Pettersson at the Canadian Open Golf tournament in Toronto July 24, 2010. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

As if St. George's hadn't suffered enough, here came Carl Pettersson walking down the 18th fairway, not an ounce of malice in his heart, but still looking to add insult to injury.

As Pettersson would say later: "How many chances do you have to shoot 59?"

Pettersson arrived at the 18th green, his ball sitting a foot off the putting surface, some 30 feet from the cup. One putt for 59, a score only a handful of golfers, even the giants of the PGA Tour, ever achieve.

It was just a few minutes before noon on Saturday, hardly prime time, but the gallery around the 18th had grown considerably. The same logic applies: How many times do you get a chance to see a putt for 59?

Pettersson, a good, solid player with three career wins on his resume, sized up his putt, and gave it a good, solid rap.

"It was a difficult putt to get to the hole because it's quite steep uphill," he said. "I told myself, 'You cannot leave this short; you gotta give this a chance.' I hit a solid putt."

The ball rolled to the cup, caught a bit of the right lip, but stayed out. Tap-in for 60.

"With six inches less pace, it probably would have gone in," said Pettersson.

South African Tim Clark, a former college teammate of Pettersson's at North Carolina State, who had started the day as the tournament leader, nine shots ahead of his friend, was waiting behind the green to shake Pettersson's hand.

"What's the matter?" asked Clark. "Can't make a friggin' putt?"

With his round, Pettersson had gone from 78th-place to first place, at least temporarily. He had also claimed the St. George's course record and also the record for the lowest round ever recorded in the Canadian Open.

A little perspective: in 100 Opens previous to this one, four players -- Leonard Thompson, Andy Bean, Greg Norman and Hunter Mahan -- had each crafted a round of 62. In this, the 101st renewal, two players have shot 62 and now Pettersson has lowered the standard to 60.

Not bad for a guy who didn't think he was even going to get to play on the weekend.

"I thought I was going to miss the cut (Friday)," said Pettersson. "We got finished with the round and it was right on the borderline. Me and Jay Williamson were actually watching the computer to see if we were going to make the cut and we had a few Canadian beers in there. That settled me down, I think. Maybe that's what did it."

However he did it, it was another kick to the solar plexus for St. George's which has been victimized by soft fairways and greens this week, neutralizing its defences.

"It's a good golf course," said Pettersson. "The par-fives are all reachable. That's where you can make your scores. But I'm surprised how low the scoring is. Me and my caddie (Grant Berry) thought that 10-under would win the tournament at the start of the week."

Pettersson made eagle putts on two of the par fives (9 and 11) and birdied the third (14). His round started out as something quite ordinary, with a par at one, a bogey at two and pars at three and four. At that point he was one-over for the round and even par for the tournament. He played the next 14 holes in 11-under-par.

"When I birdied five and six, that kind of got me going and then the eagle on nine really kick-started the round. Off I went. I don't even know what scores I shot. I kind of lost track.

"You sort of get into your own little zone and just keep going. You don't really want to think about it because your mind can work against you. I just try to blank everything out. You don't know what's going on around you."

Everybody else did, though. Somebody gets a chance at 59, news spreads like wildfire. Unfortunately, in the end, he fell one lip-out short of that mystical number.

"I'm thrilled to shoot 60," he said, "but to shoot 59, I don't know how many chances you're going to get in your lifetime."

The way this golf course is playing, the next chance might happen Sunday.


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