Shaun Jones flirts with a 59, closing with 63 at NZ PGA

PALMERSTON NORTH, New Zealand (AP) For 14 holes during the second round of the New Zealand PGA Championship on Friday, Shaun Jones was on course to join one of golf’s most elite groups.

The New Zealander completed the first nine holes at the Manawatu Golf Club’s Hokowhitu course at Palmerston North in 8-under 28, including two eagles and four birdies.

And when he birdied the 14th hole he was 9-under on the par-71 layout, needing to go 4-under over his final six holes to become the third player this year to shoot 59 in a professional tournament.

But the he lost momentum, closing with par, bogey, par, par to shoot 63 and lead the tournament by two strokes at 12-under 130 after two rounds.

”The front-9 was stupidly good, the back-9 I got a little bit nervy,” Jones said. ”But it was a good day, I got into the mix.”

Jones admitted thoughts of a 59 crept into his head after his strong start. That may have been his undoing on the back nine.

”I was thinking 59,” Jones said. ”I’ve shot 8-under three times but that was a birdie at 18 to get 8-under … But when you get that deep, I don’t know if there’s a player in the world that doesn’t think about it.”

The two 59s this year came on the PGA Tour, both in January. American Justin Thomas posted the seventh 59 and eighth sub-60 score in PGA Tour history while winning the Sony Open on the par-70 Waialae Country Club in Hawaii.

A week later, Adam Hadwin of Canada shot a 13-under 59 at the CareerBuilder Challenge during the third round at California’s La Quinta Country Club, one of three courses being used for the tournament.

Hadwin, who led after three rounds, finished second to winner Hudson Swafford after a final-round 70.