I attended the DANNY THOMAS ST JUDE MEMPHIS GOLF CLASSIC FROM 1975 to 1988 when it was at my club (Colonial) and Tom Weiskopf was one of my favorite golfers to follow!!! Tom finished 7th in 1977 and in top 10 almost every year! Sad to hear he died today at 79.

PGA TOUR Archive

I read today of Tom Weiskopf passing. He was a great golfer.

I attended the DANNY THOMAS ST JUDE MEMPHIS GOLF CLASSIC FROM 1975 to 1988 when it was at my club (Colonial) and Tom Weiskopf was one of my favorite golfers to follow!!! Tom finished 7th in 1977!!!

In 1977, two huge events made national news at the now titled “Danny Thomas Memphis Classic.” First, President Gerald Ford made a hole-in-one during Wednesday’s Celebrity Pro-Am. That event is now referred to as the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” Two days later, Al Geiberger shocked the golf world with his record low round of 59 on Friday of the tournament. The 13-under-par round still stands as a PGA TOUR record. (Chip Beck and David Duval have since tied the mark.)

I had the chance to hear the roar that came from the crowd that day that President Ford hit the hole in one (on hole #5 at Colonial Country Club in Cordova, TN). Just a few holes later I saw Danny Thomas walking around saying with slurred speech, :”This is the ball, this is the ball” while he held up a golf ball. I thought he was going to fall on me as he passed by.

Then just two days later I saw the last 5 holes of Al Geiberger’s 59. He was walking around with this silly grin on his face because almost every putt was going in.

Al Geiberger’s 59 At The Memphis Classic

Al Geiberger's 59 At The Memphis Classic
Al Geiberger’s 59 At The Memphis Classic

Al Geiberger’s 59 At The Memphis Classic

On June 10, 1977 at the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic (now the Fedex St. Jude), Al Geiberger became the first player to shoot at 59 in a PGA TOUR event. The feat has since been bested, but Geiberger is foreverafter known as Mr. 59.

In 1977, the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic was held at Memphis’ Colonial Country Club. The 39-year-old Geiberger already held the course tournament record of 64 there. The Colonial Country Club played to a par 72 at 7, 193 yards.

June 10 was a hot day in Memphis. Temperatures reached 98 degrees.

Beginning his round on the back nine, Geiberger opened with a birdie (on 10).

“I just sank a routine 40-foot putt to get started,” Geiberger said.

He got a par on eleven.

Geiberger made a 14-foot putt for birdie on the par three twelfth. He then parred 13 and 14.

Starting on the fifteenth, Geiberger played seven straight holes under par. Hitting fairways and greens, Geiberger made short putts for birdie on 15, 16, 17 and 18.

Making the turn to the 576 yard first hole, Geiberger wound up with an eagle. Newspaper accounts vary as to the circumstances. One says that he “routinely holed a wedge shot for eagle,” while others say he reached the green in two and sank a 30 foot putt.

The eagle was followed by a pair of 20 foot putts for birdie on holes two and three.

A short putt on the fourth was deflected by a bump. Players said that the course’s greens were far from smooth on that day, which makes the score even more remarkable.

Pars on the fifth and sixth were followed by another birdie on the seventh. The record was set on the final hole (the 9th), with a six foot birdie putt (or perhaps 8 feet … accounts vary).

On the round, Geiberger hit 18 fairways and 18 greens in regulation and had 23 putts.

After the round, Geiberger said that he knew where he stood on the final hole, but felt no real pressure:

“It is not as frightening as you might think, because I kinda worked up to it. Everything was going so well, it just seemed natural.”

“Everything was going well for me. The adrenaline was really flowing. I was playing so well and putting so well. I was nervous, but not scared.”

Dave Stockton, who was playing with Geiberger, remembered the round:

“I’ve never seen anything like it. When we came down to that last hole, people were yelling for him to do it. Players were coming out of the clubhouse to gallery and you never see that. I kept trying to hit a good shot so as not to break his concentration, and sure enough, I would hit it sideways somewhere.”

Stockton also noted that Geiberger had been struggling heading into Memphis. He missed the two prior cuts. A strained back and the death of his father earlier in the year had taken its toll.

“When we were in Atlanta (two weeks prior), I was giving him a putting lesson. He just wasn’t putting.”

Putting lesson aside, Geiberger credited Stockton for spraying a mysterious substance on his shoulder before the round to help with stiffness and pain.

“I don’t know what it was, but Dave already wants to know what I’ll pay to have him spray me again tomorrow.”

Geiberger also thought a fan may have helped. On the fourteenth, a man came out of his house and gave Stockton a diet cola, cheese and crackers.

“I didn’t make anything but birds after that.”

One asterisk for that remarkable round was that — due to rain — the players were using improved lies. Geiberger says, however that he did not improve a lie during that round.

Geiberger was convinced that in the future, shooting 59 would be a routine event.

“It (60) was a mental barrier, just like the four-minute mile. Once that was broken, several people did it, I’m sure this will be the same way. Now everybody will shoot 59. if I can shoot it, anyone can.”

He was, of course, wrong. It took 26 years for another player to shoot a 59. The next to break 60 was Chip Beck at the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational. David Duval shot a 59 at the 1999 Bob Hope Classic. Paul Goydos repeated the feat in 2010 at the John Deere Classic. In 2010, Stuart Appleby shot 59 in the final round of the Greenbrier Classic. Justin Thomas shot 9 at the 2017 Sony Open. Adam Hadwin made his mark at 59 at the 2017 CareerBuilder Challenge. However, the record for low round currently is held by Jim Furyk at the 2013 BMW Championship.

On his round, Geiberger was in reach of breaking another record for consecutive birdies. At the time, the record was eight, set by Bob Goalby in 1961 and tied by Fuzzy Zoeller in 1976. The current record is nine, set by Mark Calcavecchia at the 2009 RBC Canadian Open. Calcavecchia shot a 65 on that day.

“The first thing I thought about the day was the record for eight birdies in a row, then I blew that” Geiberger said. “Then I set 59 as my goal. It sounds ridiculous to talk in those numbers.”

Lee Trevino said of the round:

“Al Geiberger should have to take a test to prove he’s a member of the human race.”

Curtis Strange noted:

“That course was one of the 3, 4, 5 courses I would have bet you would have never seen a 59 on. I think it’s one of the greatest feats in the history of the game. I really do.”

Geiberger’s Scorecard:

OUT

Hole  10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18 
Par 4 4 3 4 4 3 5 4 5
Score 3 4 2 4 4 2 4 3 4
To par −1 −1 −2 −2 −2 −3 −4 −5 −6

IN

Hole   1     2    3   4   5   6   7   8   9 
Par 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 4 4
Score 3 3 2 4 3 3 4 4 3
To par −8 −9 −10 −10 −10 −11 −12 −12 −13

At the end of that round, the leaderboard was:

  • Al Geiberger 72 – 59 = 131
  • Keith Fergus 70-67 = 137
  • Gary Player 67-71 = 138
  • Ray Floyd 73-65 = 138
  • Mike Morley 69 – 70 – 139
  • Mike Hill 68 – 71 = 139
  • Tom Weiskopf 71 – 68 = 139

Geiberger would go on to win that tournament, though not without a challenge from Gary Player. The Black Knight started the final day four shots back, and caught and passed Geiberger with an eagle on the 7th hole. Geiberger said

“I thought that when Gary eagled number 7 and I bogeyed the eighth that it was his ball game. But I birdied ten and Player bogeyed and it put me back in the game.”

Player’s eagle came on a 35 foot putt.

A bogey from Player on the 14th, bettered by Geiberger’s 30 foot putt for a birdie gave the lead back to Mr. 59. Player’s shot had hooked into the crowd.

Again, Geiberger:

“I ran a fifteen foot birdie putt on number fifteen right on top of a long birdie putt by Player and I felt like things were going my way just as they did on Friday for the record round.”

On the final hole, Geiberger laid up to play it safe, but still brought in a birdie.

Geiberger shot a two-under 70 in the final round for a 72-59-72=70. Note that he won the tournament without a score in the 60s — the only time that has happened in a non-major.

The final leaderboard that week at the Memphis Classic:

Another event of note from the Memphis Classic of that year: President Gerald Ford shot a hole-in-one during the pro-am.

The win in Memphis was Geiberger’s tenth of eleven career PGA TOUR tournament victories .

Greiberger was a native Californian who graduated from the University of Southern California. He turned pro in 1959 and joined the PGA TOUR in 1960. His first professional win was at the 1962 Ontario Open. A solid player, he won the 1966 PGA Championship. He then stalled, not winning again until 1975. Gastro-intestinal issues were apparently at the root of his playing difficulties. Greiberger’s final PGA TOUR  victory was at the 1979 Colonial National Invitational in Forth Worth. He shot a 276 (-6) for a one shot lead.

Greiberger also played on the 1967 and 1975 Ryder Cup.

Following surgery to remove his colon, Greberger went on to rack up another ten wins on the Champions Tour.

While Geiberger was the first to shoot a 59 in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event, he as not the first to shoot 59 in a professional tournament. That honor goes to Sam Snead, who in 1959 shot a 59 at the Greenbrier Open. The Greenbrier Open was a pro-am tournament staged at the annual Spring Festival at The Greenbrier.

Although Jack Snead was young when his father played his unprecedented round of golf, he recalls he and his father had talks about that long-ago day.

“He was really tickled,” the younger Snead said “He got a telegram from Queen Elizabeth the next morning.

“He said that he could have shot a 58 if he hadn’t missed a three-foot putt on the 17th hole, which was a par three then.”

Buddy Cook, host golf professional at The Greenbrier when Snead carded the enviable 59, remembers the excitement it promoted among the fans and sports writers at the Spring Festival.

“I was in a foursome playing right behind Sam,” said Cook, who lives in White Sulphur Springs.

“He missed several putts coming in or the score would have been lower than 59. Sam was jubilant. Everyone was celebrating.

Like Snead, Geiberger’s swing was a thing of beauty. In the mid-1980s, a company called Sybervision recorded Geiberger’s swing for a videotape lesson series. The idea was that golfers would watch Geiberger’s gorgeous swing and perfect rhythm over and over in an endless loop, until they were imprinted on their brains. With the imprint, golfers would then be able to recall the motions and rhythm on the course.

Memories of the 59

Uploaded on Aug 1, 2008

Al Geiberger (“Mr. 59”) talks about what helped him shoot his record breaking 59 in 1977.

__________________

mr 59

Uploaded on Jul 27, 2011

go to view the website http://www.kxxu.com
signed autograph golf balls for sale 
by Al Geiberger Mr. 59

______________________

In 1977, two huge events made national news at the now titled “Danny Thomas Memphis Classic.” First, President Gerald Ford made a hole-in-one during Wednesday’s Celebrity Pro-Am. That event is now referred to as the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” Two days later, Al Geiberger shocked the golf world with his record low round of 59 on Friday of the tournament. The 13-under-par round still stands as a PGA TOUR record. (Chip Beck and David Duval have since tied the mark.)

I had the chance to hear the roar that came from the crowd that day that President Ford hit the hole in one (on hole #5 at Colonial Country Club in Cordova, TN). Just a few holes later I saw Danny Thomas walking around saying with slurred speech, :”This is the ball, this is the ball” while he held up a golf ball. I thought he was going to fall on me as he passed by.

Then just two days later I saw the last 5 holes of Al Geiberger’s 59. He was walking around with this silly grin on his face because almost every putt was going in.

___________________

This picture above is right after the round of 59 and the picture below after he hit the last putt. I was in the crowd watching him and I was standing right behind the green towards the clubhouse.

_________________
____________
_____________
Fast forward to Sept 13, 2013 where another 59 happened:

Valley’s Al Geiberger says sixth member of 59 Club adds ‘credibility’

Sep. 14, 2013   |
0 Comments

Jim Furyk almost made Al Geiberger’s prophecy come true.

Geiberger, the Palm Desert resident and the first player to shoot a 59 on the PGA Tour, has always said some player will be coming down to the last hole needing to birdie the hole to shoot 59, and instead will hole out for an eagle and a 58.

“And he almost did it,” Geiberger said moments after watching Furyk hit an approach shot to just two feet on the last hole, then make the birdie putt to shoot 59 in the second round of the BMW Championship near Chicago on Friday.

Geiberger said he had been getting text messages throughout the afternoon as Furyk made his run at the fabled 59. And the messages were coming in after the round ended, too.

“Here’s one I just got. ‘You’re still the president of the club,’ ” Geiberger laughed.

Furyk birdied two of his last three holes Friday in the BMW Championship to become the sixth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59. Needing a birdie on the par-4 ninth hole at Conway Farms, he stuffed a gap wedge into just over 3 feet and calmly knocked it in.

“A very cool card,” Furyk said as he gazed at the scores, which included an eagle when he holed out with a 9-iron.

It was a day he won’t forget, in the same town — the Chicago suburbs, anyway — where he won his lone major at the U.S. Open in 2003.

Standing in the ninth fairway at Conway Farms, 103 yards from a front pin, Furyk didn’t want to let his chance get away from him.

“I said, ‘How many opportunities are you going to have in life to do this again?’ ” he said. “Got to take advantage of it. Tried to knock it in there tight and make it as easy on yourself as you can.”

He made the putt and repeatedly pumped his fist, turning for the gallery in the grandstands to see, and then he hugged caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan and tapped him on the head.

“I guess the moment kind of struck me the most at No. 9 when I hit it the wedge shot in there close, and the crowd erupted and I started looking around and it just hit me how many people had come over to that side to see the finish,” Furyk said.

There’s work left for the trophy. Furyk was tied on top with Brandt Snedeker, who was nine shots clear of Furyk at the start of the second round.

The six 59s started with Geiberger’s round in the second round of the tour’s Memphis tournament at Colonial Country Club in 1977. Six 59s have also been shot on the Web.com Tour, and Annika Sorenstam is the only golfer to have shot a 59 on the LPGA.

“I always told people there was no room for a bogey in the 59,” Geiberger said of Furyk’s round of 11 birdies, one eagle and one bogey. “This shows that was wrong.”

Throughout the year, Geiberger has watched as a variety of players have made runs at 59, and he admits that the other 59s have brought more attention to his round.

“It’s good. It gives it credibility,” Geiberger said. “I was pulling for Phil (Mickelson) to shoot 59, not necessarily 58, at Phoenix. And Furyk is a good player, so there is credibility.”

Geiberger says he never roots against anyone on the verge of a 59.

“You don’t have any control to start with,” he said. “I didn’t realize it, but once it got past a couple of people, it’s almost been a little better. More and more people have one now. Now they are comparing the rounds, and I know I will win the comparison. Not to be talking, but I know my round stands up.”

Geiberger’s round came on a demanding par-72 course, while other rounds have come on par-72 layouts considered not as tough as Colonial or on par-71 or par-70 courses.

“The first thing my wife said after Furyk’s round was it’s not 13-under and it’s not par-72,” Geiberger joked.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: