SNOQUALMIE — Kevin Sutherland had a chance to make history Saturday, and become the first player to shoot 59 twice in sanctioned pro events.
He just missed, but his 12-under-par 60 was not only a course record at the Club at Snoqualmie Ridge, but it also put him into a tie for the lead heading into the final round of the Boeing Classic.
“That’s a great consolation prize,” said Sutherland, who had five birdies on the front nine and seven on the back. “I’m not even remotely disappointed with the day. Shooting a 59 … was once in a lifetime. Just to have an opportunity to shoot it again was a treat.”
Sutherland, who began the day tied for 26th, and Ken Tanigawa are at 14-under 130, three shots ahead of Scott McCarron, who will join the two leaders in the final group on Sunday.
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Scott Dunlap, who won the Boeing Classic in 2014, is alone in fourth at 10 under after a 66. Seattle native Fred Couples shot an even-par 72 and is tied for 43rd at 1 under.
Sutherland shot a 59 at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in 2014, the only PGA Tour Champions player to break 60, and now has one of 14 scores of 60 on the tour. He capped his great round Saturday by making about a 20-foot putt for a birdie on the par-5 18th hole.
Sutherland, 54, began with three straight pars on a cool and sometimes drizzly day, and then he got hot. Sutherland said he hit several approach shots close, then on the back nine when the putts were a little longer, in the 10-, 15- and 20-foot range, he made those too. One of his most important putts came on the 11th, a 10- to 12-footer to save a par. He made that, keeping the momentum going.
After he made a birdie on the 16th hole, Sutherland started thinking that a 59 might be possible.
“I go, ‘You birdie 17 and you eagle 18, you’re there,’ ” he said.
He accomplished the birdie on the 17th and he hit a nice drive on the 18th, allowing him to try and reach the green on the par-5 hole in two shots. But the approach went into the right bunker (“maybe my worst shot of the day”) and he blasted it 20 feet past the hole. That ended his chance to shoot a 59, and left him needing to make a long putt to shoot a 60. That was no problem on this day.
“I felt like every putt was going to go in,” Sutherland said.
Tanigawa, 50, had the second-best score of the day and his best of the season. His previous best score was the 66 he shot Friday in the first round. He played professionally for 11 years in Asia and Australia, then on the Web.com Tour in 2003 before regaining his amateur status.
“I fired myself,” Tanigawa said of ending his first stint as a pro.
But he started playing better and won the Arizona Amateur in 2015 and 2017, then earned the last of five fully exempt spots on PGA Tour Champions this season at qualifying school. He is 52nd in the Schwab Cup standings and his best finish is a tie for 10th.
“It will be fun to just go out and play and do the best I can,” said Tanigawa, who was a college teammate of McCarron’s at UCLA, about Sunday’s final round. “If it works out, that would be great, and if not, it’s a great learning experience.”
Sutherland has one PGA Tour win and one win on the PGA Tour Champions, coming last year in the Schwab Cup Championship. His victory on the PGA Tour came in the 2002 Accenture Match Play Championship, a World Golf Championship event. He beat McCarron 1-up in the 36-hole final.
The challenge is to follow a great round with another low score. Sutherland followed his 59 in 2014 with a 74 and finished tied for seventh.
“One of the lessons I learned from (the 59) was that there was this feeling that you actually had won something before the tournament was over, and I did not play well the next day,” Sutherland said. “So I am going to take a little bit of that with me. I’m going to probably have to shoot a really good score tomorrow to win the tournament.”