NORTON, Mass. -- PGA Tour rookie Scottie Scheffler shot a 12-under 59 in the second round of the Northern Trust on Friday to become the 11th player in PGA Tour history to post a sub-60 round.
It's not the first time he's done it. It's not even the first time he's done it this year.
"I shot one in the quarantine a few months ago," Scheffler said. "We were playing a socially distanced game with a few of my buddies. I didn't know I shot 59 at the time. We were riding home, and I was kind of adding everything up. I counted it up like 10 times. I texted the guy who kept the score, and he actually got my score wrong on 17 and I had something else wrong at the beginning of the round. So I don't know how we both messed it up, but we figured it out later. "
This time, he knew. And this time, it counted.
"It was just coming in and out and like, 'Hey, it would be cool, just keep playing aggressive and keep trying to make birdies,'" he said. "I wouldn't say I was thinking about it the whole time, but it crossed my mind now and then, for sure."
At 24, he became the second-youngest player to break 60 in a PGA Tour event. Justin Thomas was 23 when he shot 59 in the first round of the 2017 Sony Open. Over the past decade, the PGA Tour has seen a run on 59 or better. Before 2010, there were three sub-60 rounds in the history of the tour. Since then, there have been nine (Jim Furyk has two, including a 58 in the 2016 Travelers Championship).
This one, though, came in relative silence. Like all tournaments since the PGA Tour returned from a three-month shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Northern Trust is being played without spectators.
"To be completely honest, there was nobody out there watching our group until I think 17 -- some cameras showed up," Scheffler said. "So we were pretty much just out there having fun, hanging out. Just playing golf, really. There was not too much thinking going on for us.
Scheffler started the day at 1 under after an opening-round 70, 6 shots off the pace and in need of a decent round just to make the cut. Less than five hours later, he walked off TPC Boston with the course record, a sub-60 round and a share of the lead at 13 under.
"I never really lost momentum, which was nice," Scheffler said. "A lot of times when you're playing well, you can lose that momentum towards the end of the round or have a hiccup here or there. The momentum stayed the whole time, and I made a lot of putts."
After a birdie at the par-5 second and a par at the third, Scheffler rattled off four consecutive birdies before adding another at the ninth to go out in 6-under 30.
"You obviously put [thoughts of breaking 60] in the back of your head when you're hitting shots and stuff, but as far as thinking about it, it's not necessarily a negative because it encourages me to continue to make birdies," Scheffler said.
He started the back nine in similar fashion, with birdies at 10 and 11. He rattled off three in a row beginning at the 14th. He stepped to the finishing hole needing just one more to break 60.
At the par-5 18th, he reached the front edge of the green in two and needed two putts from just under 90 feet to secure the 59. His first putt settled 4 feet from the hole, and he stepped up and knocked that in for his 12th and final birdie of the round.
"You don't ever really get too many opportunities to shoot a 59, so to be able to finish the job is really cool," he said. "I definitely was nervous, very nervous over both those shots coming down the stretch, but I think it helped me focus a little bit more."
After a poor start coming out of the shutdown -- Scheffler finished 55th at the Charles Schwab, then missed three consecutive cuts -- he's been playing well the past three weeks. He tied for 22nd at the Memorial, tied for 15th at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational and tied for fourth at the PGA Championship.
"I felt like I gave myself a really good chance to win on Sunday [at the PGA]," Scheffler said. "I just didn't hole a lot of putts. I hit it great on Sunday. Was very calm and I struck it really well. The putts just weren't falling. It wasn't meant to be that day, but I definitely took some confidence from that knowing I hit it plenty good to win that golf tournament."
Now he heads into the weekend with a chance to win a playoff event and put himself in position to not just make the season-ending Tour Championship as a rookie but also contend for the FedEx Cup and the $15 million check that comes with winning it. He entered this event 24th on the points list but has himself in position to make a significant jump.
"I put myself in a good position to play well this weekend and win the tournament, and so I'm just going to continue to try to play well and hit good shots and see where that leaves me," he said. "I'm not really overthinking things."