'99 Am Champ Gossett Shoots 59
David Gossett knew he needed a career round Saturday to keep alive fading hope in qualifying school. He wound up with golf's magic number - a 59 - that shot him from the bottom of the pack into contention for a PGA Tour card.
With his first ever hole-in-one and 11 birdies on the Nicklaus Private course at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., Gossett made a 7-foot birdie putt on his final hole for at 13-under 59, moving him from 129th place into a tie for 25th with two rounds left.
The 1999 U.S. Amateur champion, who opened with rounds of 70-76-71, was at 12-under 276. Andrew McLardy of South Africa had a 66 and maintained his lead at 261.
"You move from 1 over to 12 under in one round - that's a pretty good day's work," Gossett said in a telephone interview.
It was only the sixth 59 in PGA Tour-sanctioned competition. Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval got their scores in PGA Tour events, while Notah Begay III and Doug Dunakey each had 59 on the Nike Tour.
The score will not be recognized in the record books because the Qualifying Tournament is not considered an official tour event.
Still, it was the second sub-60 score in qualifying tournaments this year. Shigeki Maruyama had a 58 this year at Woodmont in Maryland during a U.S. Open qualifier.
And it could not have come at a better time for Gossett, the former University of Texas star who turned pro this year after the British Open.
Only the top 35 and ties from Q-school earn their PGA Tour cards for next year, and Gossett's prospects were looking dim midway through the most grueling tournament in golf.
Starting on the back nine, he had six birdies, including a 40-footer on No. 16, and slowly worked his way back toward the middle of the pack. It only got better from there.
He got his first career ace on No. 3, an 8-iron from 162 yards.
"When I made the turn at 6 under, the thought of a 59 kind of crossed my mind," Gossett said. "But I wasn't thinking about it until the last couple of holes."
He made a 20-footer for birdie on No. 7, made a nice up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 eighth and then hit the magic number with a 7-foot birdie putt with a left-to-right break on the ninth hole.
That his 59 does not go in the record books was of little concern to Gossett.
"It's more important for the position that it moved me nto, and the confidence I can get for the next two days," Gossett said. "I need to move on and enjoying it this evening, and then get prepared for the next two days."
McLardy had a three-stroke lead over Stephen Allan, important because the winner gets a full exemption on tour next year.
Frank Nobilo, among the 18 former PGA Tour champions in the field, had a 66 and was tied for 15th at 273. Sweden's Per-Ulrik Johansson, a five-time winner on the PGA European Tour, had a 70 and was another stroke back.
Casey Martin had a 69 and was at 277. Martin, whose lawsuit against the PGA Tour for a right to ride a cart will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court next month, was tied for 38th.
While the top 35 and ties get tour cards, the next 50 will get exemptions on the Buy.com Tour.
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