Fredrik Jacobson wrote his name into the annals of European Tour history when a scintillating 12 under par 60 at Gut Lärchenhof, with golf as hot as the Cologne sunshine, gave him the lead after the first round of the Linde German Masters.
It was the 11th time that 60 has been carded in a European Tour event, the 28 year old Swede becoming the tenth player to achieve the feat with Darren Clarke appearing twice on the list, and gave Jacobson a three shot advantage at the end of the first day from Korean golfer KJ Choi.
No-one has managed the magical figure of 59 in official European Tour competition but Jacobson came close, arriving at his final hole of the day, the 469 yard ninth, needing a birdie three to make history.
In the end, however, the winner of the Omega Hong Kong Open and the Algarve Open de Portugal already on Tour this year, was relieved to make par four for 60 and a new course record at Gut Lärchenhof, after pulling his approach shot wide of the green, pitching to ten feet and bravely holing out.
“If you haven’t had any errors earlier in the day, it would have been a shame to finish with a bogey, so it was great to hole that putt and great to move alongside all the other great players on The European Tour who have shot 60,” said Jacobson.
“I think today was just about the perfect round of golf for me – I don’t think I could really ask for anything more. You can’t make every putt in the round but I made more than my fair share (he had 21 putts in total).
“To shoot 60 is fantastic because I haven’t really been close before. To have the chance for one more birdie and a 59 was an awesome feeling on the tee. It was just one of those days when you start off playing well and just keep it going.”
A birdie on his first hole, the tenth, from ten feet, set the tone for the Swede and when he rolled in a 40 footer for a birdie on the 12th, he got the feeling it might just be his day. That was borne out with eight more birdies and an eagle three at the 555 yard third, holing from ten feet after a superb five wood second shot arrowed the centre of the green.
Second placed Choi was a mixture of delight and surprise, the former at his own form in shooting a fine 63, the latter that even with such a good score, he found himself three shots off the lead.
The 33 year old Korean, who won twice on the US PGA Tour in 2002, started on the tenth hole like Jacobson and just as his Swedish counterpart did, he birdied the hole from ten feet.
He went on to post eight more birdies in a flawless round which continued the good current form that saw him finish tied for fourth in his last appearance on the US PGA Tour a fortnight ago, in the Bell Canadian Open.
Choi was assisted by Andy Prodger, the former caddie of Colin Montgomerie, who was given special dispensation by Tournament Director Mikael Eriksson to pull the Korean’s bag on a trolley as a result of a back injury.
“He is pretty fast at gathering the information and giving it to me so that really helped today,” said Choi through an interpreter. “Obviously he has had a lot of experience caddieing on the Tour so that was a big bonus too.”
On a day dominated by low scoring in idea conditions, a group of five players shared third place on seven under par 65, Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Gary Orr, Ian Poulter and Carlos Rodiles.
Casey, Clarke and Rodiles all included eagles on their cards but Scotland’s Orr went one better with two, back to back eagles for the first time in his professional career, holing his six iron second at the 12th from 180 yards for a two and following it up with a 40 foot putt for three at the 509 yard 13th.
Completing the group, Poulter went for the more conventional route of seven birdies without an error, the Englishman pulled along in the slipstream of leader and playing partner Jacobson and indeed so impressive was their combined play, their better ball for 18 holes was an astonishing 58.
“I’d have loved to have seen him chip in for 59 at the last, that would have been awesome,” said a generous Poulter. “That’s what we are out here for after all, to have as much fun as possible, and to see that was great. I managed to roll in a few too myself which helped the day along nicely.”
Clarke, winner of the recent World Golf Championships – NEC Invitational in at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, had a modest start in comparison to his fellow pacesetters, five pars at the first five holes, but more than made up for it with a strong finish.
“I could have been four or five under after the first five holes but I wasn’t which was a little disappointing,” said the Irishman. “But I didn’t push it, didn’t try to force anything, tried my best to stay patient and I eventually got my rewards which was pleasing.”