12 of the Most Impressive Rounds in Golf
Sometimes just completing a round of golf can feel like an accomplishment, but for professional players, the bar is set a little higher. There have been many great rounds of golf played in the history of sport – some because of the lowness of the scores, some because of the circumstances in which they were played in: all of them exceptional in their own way. Without further ado, here’s my list of 12 of the most impressive golf rounds of all-time.
Jim Furyk’s final round in the 2016 Traveller’s Championship – 58 (-12)
He may not have the most picture perfect swing, but boy does Jim Furyk know how to play! The 49 year old has had many great rounds in his career, including a 59 in the BMW Championship, but his best ever score came at the Traveller’s Championship in 2016. After shooting two over par round on Saturday, Furyk shot a 12 under par 58 in the final round, becoming the first player ever to shoot 58 on the PGA Tour. He hit all 18 greens in regulation, had 10 birdies and an eagle and had only 24 putts.
Tiger Woods’s final round in the 2008 US Open – 73 (+2)
Woods’s fairytale final round in the 2008 US Open did not yield a particularly low score, but it remains special for other reasons – namely, the manner in which he got it done. Playing on what was effectively a broken left leg, Woods nonetheless pulled within striking distance of clubhouse leader Rocco Mediate with a hole to go. After a wedge to 15 feet, he faced a must-make putt to force extra holes. Would he make it? I refer you to the immortal commentary: “When you’re Tiger Woods, they don’t dare wriggle out.”
Charlie Sifford’s final round in the 1967 Greater Hartford Open – 64 (-7)
Again, the score of this round wasn’t particularly sizzling, but in terms of significance, Charlie Sifford’s closing 7 under 64 in the Greater Hartford Open was about as impressive as it gets. Up until 1961, the PGA Tour only allowed white golfers to play in their events and as a black man, Sifford was banned because of his dark skin. Facing threats and racial abuse, Sifford nonetheless hung on to close out the first ever win by a black golfer on the tour. They don’t get more important than this.
Babe Zaharias’s second round in the 1945 Los Angeles Open – 81 (+10)
Babe Zaharias was another player who faced wilting pressure and scrutiny but came out on top. Making the cut in an event is always a big deal, but the second round cut in the 1945 Los Angeles Open was particularly important: for the Open was a men’s competition and, if the female Babe were to make it, she would become the first ever woman to play the final two rounds in a male event. Babe made the grade and, in the process, struck a huge blow for the profile of women’s golf.
Rory McIlroy’s second round in the 2019 Open Championship – 65 (-6)
Dubbed the most disappointing 65 in history by McIlroy’s fellow professional Eddie Pepperell, Rory’s second round 65 in this year’s Open was impressive nonetheless. Following a disastrous eight over par 79 on Thursday, McIlroy knew he had to bring his A game to make the cut. Knowing he had to shoot a low one to have any chance of making the weekend, the Northern Irishman was able to summon his best play and though he eventually came up one shot short, the pluck that he displayed was inspirational and will springboard him to future success.
Ben Hogan’s final round in the 1950 US Open – 74 (+4)
McIlroy’s a gritty guy, but he’s got nothing on the original gritty competitor: Ben Hogan. 16 months after his car famously crashed into a Greyhound night bus, Hogan was in contention in the US Open. The crash had broken Hogan’s pelvis, collarbone and ankle, and, courtesy of a botched leg operation, made it nearly impossible to walk, but after three good rounds, Hogan was right among the leaders. With his legs half paralysed, Hogan hit a bullet-like 1 iron to the heart of the 18th green, parring under immense pressure to force a play-off which he won the next day. It was the final round grind, however, that really earned him the championship, completing one of golf’s greatest comebacks.
Y.E. Yang’s final round in the 2009 PGA Championship – 67 (-5)
Going into the final round of the 2009 PGA Championship, Tiger Woods was 14 for 14 in majors won while leading after round three and, nursing a two stroke lead over Y.E. Yang at Hazeltine, looked certain to gain a 15th. Yang, however, had other ideas. Under the intense pressure of playing in a final round pairing in a major with the big cat, Yang summoned some incredible golf and outmuscled golf’s toughest competitor down the stretch. He sealed victory with a birdie, courtesy of a towering hybrid shot over a tree on 18, before powerlifting his bag over his head to celebrate the win.
Al Geiberger’s second round in the 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic – 59 (-13)
The original ‘Mr 59’, Al Geiberger was the first person ever to shoot under 60 on the PGA Tour. In 1977, Geiberger recorded a 13 under par round of 59 at the fearsome Colonial course. And the round wasn’t just technically brilliant: it was also aesthetically pleasing, too. Geiberger’s 59 was as tidy as a round of golf gets: he didn’t miss a fairway or a green all day.
Rhein Gibson’s round (out of competition) – 55 (-16)
This is officially recognised as the lowest round of golf ever played by the Guinness Book of World Records and what a round it was. Gibson carded 12 birdies and two eagles to shoot 16 under par at River Oaks Golf Club, putting the ball in the perfect spots on nearly every hole and draining every putt he looked at. It’s safe to say that it will be a while until this round is bettered. Realistically, it might never be.
Johnny Miller’s final round in the 1973 US Open – 63 (-8)
Compared to the birdie blitz that was Rhein Gibson’s 55, Johnny Miller’s 8 under par 63 in the final round of the 1973 US Open might seem tame. But appearances can be deceptive, and raw lowness of score can be a misleading way of valuing a round. Miller ONLY managed 63. However, the course he played was a monster: Oakmont, probably the toughest on the US Open rota. Undaunted, Miller put on a ball-striking clinic, hitting all 18 greens in regulation and only missing two fairways all day. Add in the pressure of a major to the difficulty of the laayput and the greatness of this round becomes clear.
Arnold Palmer’s final round in the 1960 US Open – 65 (-6)
Seven shots back of the lead in the 1960 US Open at Cherry Hills, reporters had Arnold Palmer all but written off. Big mistake. Even bigger mistake? They told him so. Fired by the perceived slight, Palmer went out swinging. After driving the green on the 346 yard par 4 1st hole and sealing an opening birdie, ‘the King’ kept his foot hard on the gas, chipping in for birdie on the next and adding four more on the front nine. Palmer passed a host of legendary players like Julius Boros, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to claim the title by two strokes. One of the most impressive final round comebacks of all time and the biggest in the US Open to date.
Paul Lawrie's final round in the 1999 Open Championship - 67 (-4)
Carnoustie was a fearsome beast in 1999, brutally difficult, but Scotland's Paul Lawrie belied those conditions with his final round in Angus. Starting ten shots off the lead, few would have given the man from Aberdeen a chance, but his 67 - the lowest score of the day by two strokes - saw him ascend up the leaderboard. Jean van de Velde famously had a disastrous finish, but Lawrie took full advantage of that opportunity in the playoff, making two sensational birdies on the 17th and 18th to overcome the Frenchman and Justin Leonard in extra holes, winning the Claret Jug an hour from his home.
Have any additions we’ve missed out from this list? Comment and let us know what your thoughts are below.
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