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Golf's Holy Grail

At last week's Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, Phil Mickelson started the first round by firing a 28 on the front nine, leading excited announcers and pundits to speculate if he was capable of shooting golf's Holy Grail - an 18-hole 59.

Mickleson didn't make it, having to "settle" for an 8-under 63. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, as he struggled the rest of the way and finished deep in the middle of the pack.

Twenty-year-old Jordan Spieth fired a 62 on the tournament's final day, recording seven birdies and an eagle, and wound up finishing tied for third.

The mystique of the 59 is what the four-minute mile once was to competitive running or batting .400 is in baseball. It's so outlandish of an outlier to the statistical norm, most players and fans don't even consider it a possibility on any given day.

On a par-72 course, a 59 means 13-under and is generally accepted as being the "perfect round" of golf.

With the FedExCup Playoffs on a one-week break before returning next Thursday with the BMW Championship in Chicago, Illinois, here's a look at the only five men in PGA history to have achieved a "perfect round" during an official PGA event.
 
Al Geiberger, 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic. Unless you really liked golf in the 1960s and 1970s, the initial reaction to hearing or reading Geiberger's name is usually the same: Who? Geiberger might not be that memorable, considering he played in the prime of Gary Player and Jack Nickalus, but he did win the 1966 PGA Championship and finish second twice at the US Open. He became the first man to ever shoot a 59 at a PGA event in the second round and ultimately won the tournament by two strokes. He&n bsp;began the round on the back nine with birdies on 10 and 12, then tore the course up with a string of four straight birdies before eagling No. 1 and adding two more birdies on 2 and 3 to get to 10-under. His hot streak finally broke slightly with pars on No. 4 and 5, but he got back in stride with birdies on 6 and 7. After parring No. 8, he rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 9 to achieve golf immortality.
 
Chip Beck, 1991 Las Vegas Invitational. It took a full 14 years after Geiberger for another man to break 60 on the PGA Tour. Beck won four PGA events and finished second for three different Major titles in his day, and was 34 years old when he took to the links in Vegas. Unlike Geiberger's big eagle, Beck fired five pars and 13 birdies - a PGA tour record for birdies in a round. His three-footer on No. 18 sealed the 59, but it wasn't enough to give him the title, he wound up finishin g third in the tournament.
 
David Duval, 1999, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic: Of the five existing 59s in PGA history, Duval's has to be the best. He had pieced together a 31 on the front nine in the final round, and was 11-under headed to No. 18, down a stroke when a gorgeous tee shot let him sink a 6-foot putt for eagle to win the title with his 59.
 
Paul Goydos, 2010, John Deere Classic. Goydos is the oldest man to shoot a 59, doing so at age 46 in 2010 on the par-71 course with 12 birdies. Like Beck, it amazingly wasn't enough to win him the tournament. The 59 came in the first round and Goydos ended up finishing second.
 
Stuart Appleby, 2010, Greenbrier Classic. Before Appleby, no other two 59s had occured any closer than eight years apart. But Appleby matched Goydos in the same calendar year by collecting an eagle and nine birdies, including an 11-footer on No. 18 to win the tournament by a single stroke.

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