Breaking 100 is the goal for about 98 percent of golfers. Breaking 90 puts a golfer in the "decent" category. Breaking 80 is considered very good. Breaking 70 is pro territory. Breaking 60 on a regulation course over 6,500 yards is golf's version of a perfect game. And like in baseball, golf's perfect game is happening more than usual lately. Baseball has had two perfect games this season, and it would have had three if not for a blown call by an umpire. The PGA Tour has had two rounds of 59 this year, and if not for a few missed putts, it would have three more. What the heck is going on?
Sure, equipment is better. Players are in better shape. But other theories have been offered as well.
"I don't know if the tour is trying to get some people to watch television again, because they're seeing a lot of birdies, and we've all said maybe birdies help viewership," said veteran Ernie Els, laughing, while talking to reporters leading up to at this week's Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio. "I don't know what my take is.
"There's even been two 60s, 61s. It's starting to look like the Nationwide Tour, you know."
Stuart Appleby, who shot 59 Sunday to win the Greenbrier Classic, thinks there's a common theme: "Course preparation and weather is everything. … You have to make everything, and you can only do that on basically receptive greens. None of these rounds are shot on firm greens, I can assure you of that."
Here's a breakdown of rounds in the 50s.
Ranking the 59s
1. David Duval, 1999 Bob Hope Classic (PGA West Palmer Course, par 72, 6,950 yards). Not only did Duval break 60, but he did it in the final round of the five-round event and made up seven shots to win by one. He eagled the 18th hole for his final score. "To me, David Duval's 59 stands out so far from every other one," said Paul Goydos, who shot 59 in July. "He shot 59 the last day to win by one. That's just an unbelievable feat that really isn't talked about at the level it probably should be talked about.''
2. Stuart Appleby, 2010 Greenbrier Classic (Old White Course, par 70, 7,020 yards). Like Duval, Appleby had his 59 in the final round. He made up eight shots on runnerup Jeff Overton and won by a shot. "It is great to do that to win a tournament," Appleby said. "Not that that was the last hole, but to do that and cap off a low number was very unique.''
3. Al Geiberger, 1977 Memphis Classic (Colonial Country Club, par 70, 7,244 yards). They were playing lift, clean and place because of wet conditions, but Geiberger was the first to shoot 59 in an official PGA event. The temperature was nearly 100 degrees, and the greens were grainy. But Geiberger made just about every putt. His shortest birdie putt was 8 feet. "That course was one of the three, four, five courses I would have bet you would have never seen a 59 on," two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange said. "I think it's one of the greatest feats in the history of the game."
4. Paul Goydos, 2010 John Deere Classic (TPC Deere Run, par 71, 7,257 yards). Goydos accomplished his 59 in the opening round and on the day Steve Stricker shot 60. The round was played under lift, clean and place rules. Goydos made 12 birdies, eight on the back nine. He didn't win the tournament. "At the end, when I look back and I'm not playing anymore, winning on the PGA Tour is a big deal," Goydos said, "but individually, I've got 10 hole-in-ones. I've got three double eagles. Fifty-nine is one of those things I'm going to look at and say that's pretty cool."
5. Chip Beck, 1991 Las Vegas Invitational (Sunrise Golf Club, par 72, 6,979 yards). Conditions were ripe for such a low score. The course was only 10 months old and had no rough or trees, and the greens were immaculate. But no other player in the field broke 60.
Area course records
A sampling of course records on Tampa Bay area courses:
TPC Tampa Bay 61 Rocky Thompson and Fuzzy Zoeller
Innisbrook Copperhead Course 62 Jeff Sluman and Mark Calcavecchia
Westchase Golf Club 63 Marc Carter
Babe Zaharias Golf Course 60 T.J. Heidel
St. Petersburg Country Club 63 Skip Alexander
Pasadena Country Club 64 Kyle McCarthy
Lowest rounds ever
• Homero Blancas shot 55 in a college tournament in Longview, Texas, in 1962. The course, which no longest exists, was nine holes and played twice with different tee boxes to give the holes different looks. The course was par 70 and measured just more than 5,000 yards. The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes only regulation courses that are 6,500 yards or longer for lowest scores, so Blancas' score is not in the books.
• Though not official either, Trevor Murphy shot 56 at a Nationwide Tour Pro-Am event this year.
• On July 27, Bobby Wyatt, 17, of Mobile, Ala., shot 14-under 57 during the second round of the Alabama State Junior Championship on the par-71, 6,638-yard Country Club of Mobile. He had 12 birdies and an eagle.
• On May 2, Ryo Ishikawa carded 58 in the final round of the Crowns tournament on the Japan Tour. Ishikawa had the first 58 posted on one of the world's major tours. It was on a par-70, 6,545-yard course.
• Two 58s have been shot by professionals, though not in official PGA events. Jason Bohn, top, shot 58 at the 2001 Bayer Championship on the Canadian Tour. Shigeki Maruyama shot 58 in a 2000 U.S. Open qualifier.
By the numbers
1 in 122,916
Odds of a PGA player shooting 59, according to the PGA Tour.
1 in 13,470
Odds of a major-league pitcher throwing a perfect game.
59s this year on the PGA Tour.
59s in PGA history before this year.
11 years, 6 months, 8 days
Time between David Duval's 59 and Paul Goydos' 59.
Time between Goydos' 59 and Stuart Appleby's 59.
59 on the LPGA Tour (Annika Sorenstam, 2001 Standard Register Ping).
59s on the European Tour.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.