(Reuters) – Veteran Rod Pampling almost shot golf’s magic number before settling for an 11-under-par 60 in the opening round at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas on Thursday.
Pampling missed an 11-foot birdie putt at the final hole for what would have been a 59.
“I gave myself a bad read,” the Australian told PGATour.com. “I thought it was straight and it just had that little left-to-right (break).”
Pampling tied the TPC Summerlin course record to end the day with a two-shot lead over Americans Brooks Koepka and John Huh.
Pampling has endured a mediocre year, and he credited his burst of form to a fruitful session working on his driving with his coach on tournament eve.
“I’ve been hitting (the irons) quite well for two or three months, just haven’t been driving it super,” said the 47-year-old from the northern Australian state of Queensland.
The two-time PGA Tour winner made a confidence-boosting start by chipping in from 70 feet for birdie at the third hole, and then holed out with a nine-iron from 135 yards for eagle at the par-four sixth.
Later, he capped off his day with another eagle at the par-five 16th, where he almost holed out from the rough from 230 yards before tapping in from six inches.
“To be honest I wasn’t really thinking too much about (my score but) when I hit it close on 16, that got my attention,” he said.
“I would love to have made one for a 59. It was a decent putt. It was on line when it started. I’m glad I gave it a chance.”
The Las Vegas PGA Tour event has a history of throwing up low scores in the Nevada desert. In 1991, at a different course, Chip Beck became the second man to shoot 59 on tour, a list that has since grown to six players.
American Jim Furyk in August became the first player to shoot 58 on tour, and also the first player to break 60 twice, after previously carding 59 in 2013.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)