You would hardly have known how historic the moment was with the nonchalant way Oliver Fisher tapped in his par putt on the 18th hole at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course overnight. Only a few seconds later did the 30-year-old Englishman reveal a wry smile and a look that showed he knew just what he had accomplished.
Nineteen times golfers have shot 60 on the European Tour, but famously never a 59 until Fisher capped a remarkable round under perfect playing conditions at the Portgual Masters.
Fisher put himself in position for something special by playing the front nine on the Arnold Palmer-designed course in Vilamoura, Portugal, in seven-under 28, with five birdies and an eagle.
“I obviously knew I was in with a shout of shooting a low one when I made a good start,” said Fisher, who posted an even-par 71 during the opening round. “It was important to keep reminding myself that I was out there to have some fun, enjoy it, and not get too tentative. When you’ve got a good round going, it’s easy to do that.”
Fisher kept the momentum going with birdies on the 10th, 11th and 12th holes to get to 10-under, needing just two more birdies on the final six holes for the magic number.
He got one of them on the par-4 15th, and the other on the par-5 17th. But in between came arguably the biggest moment of the round. Fisher missed the green on the par-3 16th, but saved par from 20 feet.
Needing par on the home hole, Fisher split the fairway with his drive and hit his approach to roughly 40 feet. He then nearly jumped 59 and went right to a 58, just missing his birdie attempt.
Ranked 287th in the world, Fisher entered the tournament 72nd in the Race to Dubai, his tour card for 2019 seemingly in hand. That hasn’t always been the case for the former Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup player, whose lone European Tour win came in 2011 at the Czech Open.
“Very different to a couple of years ago on this green,” Fisher said, “when I was fighting to keep my card. I had that in the back of my mind, thinking, You know what, things could be worse. It was fun, I tried to enjoy it.”
The 12-under performance jumped Fisher into a share of the lead midway through the day with countryman Eddie Pepperell and Australia’s Lucas Herbert, who added a bogey-free 67 to his opening 63. Josh Geary, tied for 25th at six-under, is leading the Kiwi contingent. Ryan Fox is two strokes further adrift in a tie for 52nd.