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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — It wasn’t a 59 but Tyler McCumber posted a 60-for-50 on Sunday during the final round of the RSM Classic at the Sea Island Club Seaside Course.
McCumber skirted the left side on the cup at the ninth green, his 18th hole, on a putt of 53 feet, 6 inches for a chance to shoot 59 but settled for the 50th score of 60 or lower in PGA Tour history.
McCumber made five birdies in a row before his closing par. He had an eagle putt of 48 feet, 9 inches at No. 15 but his eight birdie putts were all 10 feet or less.
McCumber, 30, broke his previous Tour low of 63 (the most recent last summer during the first round of the Wyndham Championship) and also finally got the family record: the lowest round for his father, 10-time Tour winner and 1988 Players Champion Mark McCumber, was a 63 at the Texas Open.
“I have a long way to go in [his father’s career] to match that, but I’ll hold 60 over his head tonight over a beer,” McCumber said.
His father, who walked all 72 holes with his son this week, didn’t mind a bit, especially in watching his son rally from going to 6 under through 11 holes on Thursday, only to stumble home with a 69 at the Plantation Course, then have to birdie two of his last four holes to make the cut on Friday.
“He showed so much heart Friday afternoon the way he made the cut, and [Saturday, an even-par 70] he played almost as good as today and made nothing, it was so hard to putt with the wind. I knew he was committed and his attitude great when he ripped his drive down the middle at [No. 10] and then made his first birdie at a tough par-3 [No. 12]. He never looked back. He was never in trouble, never had to fight to make par.”
At the time McCumber finished, he was three shots off the lead and in a tie for third behind Talor Gooch, one of his playing partners in the first two rounds. Gooch eventually shot a bogey-free 64 to win, beating Mackenzie Hughes (62) by three shots at 22-under 260, while McCumber tied for fourth.
McCumber posted the second 60 this week, matching Sebastian Munoz in the first round at Seaside. They tied 2012 winner Tommy Gainey for the tournament record.
Tyler McCumber reacts after finishing his final round with a 60 at the RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club in Sea Island, Georgia. Photo by John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
McCumber will take some momentum into the Tour’s six-week break after a fall in which he missed the cut in four of his first five starts. But it was a deceptive run of missed weekends: McCumber missed three cuts by a total of four shots, and expressed some frustration to his father, especially since he was coming off a promising rookie season, making the FedEx Cup playoffs, posting five top-25s and notching his best career finish with a second to Hudson Swafford at the Dominican Republic.
“He said, ‘Dad, when is this going to turn?’” McCumber said. “We talked a lot and I told him to stay in the process, and you can get momentum.”
McCumber seized it on a sunny day with diminishing wind. After his 8-footer for birdie at No. 12, he drained an eagle putt of nearly 50 feet at No. 15, dropped a 4-footer for birdie at No. 16, turned and birdied No. 1 from less than 3 feet and No. 4 from 10 feet.
Then he got really hot. Attacking the pins with his iron shots, McCumber birdied his next five holes, with the longest putt coming from 10 feet at No 6.
He admitted to thoughts of 59 – one shot off the Tour record held by Jim Furyk – when he approached his 16th hole, the par-5 seventh.
“I came off a couple birdies in a row and just trying to find a head space that kind of kept the pedal down versus coasting in,” he said. “Just wanted to try to have a goal to birdie every hole or make an eagle coming in.
He set up his final chance with a pair of 6-foot birdie putts at Nos. 7 and 8. After pounding a 3-wood down the middle of the ninth fairway, McCumber had 144 yards to the hole and selected a 52-degree wedge, trying to account for the fact that he might have a bit of adrenaline flowing.
“I had a good number to that back-right pin,” he said. “I had a little bit of a hanging lie and I was playing for about 4 or 5 yards of adrenaline to about 3 or 4 yards short of the pin just in case you get a little help or a little gust. I figured an eight- to 10-footer right below it would be perfect, pretty makeable. I caught it a degree low and came up just a hair short and had a little longer putt than I wanted for 59.”
He gave the putt a chance, reading a break early in the roll and sliding it past on the high side.
“It looked great the entire way,” he said. “The guess was sort of in the beginning of the putt. It was a grain change. It was right-to-left grain and then right-to-left and down. I knew if I got it to the one point at the grain change, I knew what it was going to do. So obviously you’re hitting it hard from 53 feet. Just wanted to have really good speed and I felt like I had the right speed. Just hung out there a little longer than I needed.”
McCumber was cheered on during the round by a band of friends and family that have dubbed themselves, “Tito’s Banditos” — a play off his childhood nickname of Tito.
“Really an awesome support group and I’m pretty glad and fortunate to have that out here this week,” he said.
McCumber wasn’t the only one =who had a nice Sunday stroll at Sea Island. Cameron Smith had a 64 to tie for fourth with McCumber at 15-under.
It was Smith’s fourth consecutive finished among the top-15, dating back to the end of last season and his fourth top-10 in six starts, counting a tie for 10th when he played for Australia at the Olympic Golf competition.