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VISION54 is closer than ever

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In the year of the 59, the question begs to be asked, how low can you go?

World-renowned swing coaches Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson, who created an instructional and coaching program called VISION54 several years ago, have been attempting to answer that very question. The premise for this vision, according to their website, is "that if it is possible for a player to birdie any given hole on the course, then why not every hole?"

The vision is that a 54, or 18 birdies on a par-72 course, is a achievable. And the way people are going low this year, this vision seems more doable than ever.

In the last four weeks alone, two PGA Tour players -- Paul Goydos and Stuart Appleby -- have carded 59s, and three more posted 60s. Don't think this low scoring is only happening on the PGA Tour.

The Nationwide Tour has seen five 61s and count em, 10 62s. The Champions Tour had a 61 and three 62s. If you combined all three tours, there have been 25 62s and seven 61s to go along with the aforementioned 59s and 60s.

It's not just the PGA Tour-sanctioned tours with the low scoring. The European Tour saw Ross Fisher fire a 61 and two other players shoot 62s, while the LPGA has had the 'worst' scoring with only five 63s.

"You have to make everything, and you can only do that basically on receptive greens," said Appleby after his 59. "None of these rounds are shot on firm greens. I can assure you of that."

A conspiracy theorist might say the tours are setting up the courses easier to promote better scoring.

One angle for their argument is that the best players, Mssrs. Woods and Mickelson, are not playing their best golf right now and there is a need to keep television ratings as high as possible. More people will watch these birdie-fests as opposed to a tournament where something around even par wins.

That's all well and good, but I'm sure the tours don't collude with each other about course setup and even if they did, players still need to perform their best to shoot such low scores.

Not to mention, the professional tours with televised events are not the only places where low scoring happens.

Bobby Wyatt fired a 57 in the Alabama Boys State Junior Championship. His magical round included 12 birdies and an eagle on the par-71 Country Club of Mobile.

Heck, if a 17-year-old can come within three strokes (and five holes) of accomplishing VISION54, someone on one of the pro tours is going to come even closer than Goydos and Appleby have come in recent weeks.

APPLEBY'S 59 STUNNING IN MANY WAYS

There hadn't been a 59 on the PGA Tour since David Duval carded his in 1999. Now there have been two in four weeks.

The second player to author a 59, Stuart Appleby, fit the bill as someone least likely to shoot 59. Though he is one of four players that shares the PGA Tour lead in starts (24), he has made it to the weekend in only 13 of those 24 starts.

Appleby entered last week's event tied for 73rd on the PGA Tour in scoring average. Even after shooting 59, he still only ranks 54th, averaging 70.59 strokes per round.

Prior to his 59, he shot 65 the day before. The 65 was his lowest round of the year, for a day. Appleby broke 66 once in 2009, but prior to that, his last sub-66 round was way back in 2006.

He posted a 65 and a 64 en route to sharing fourth place at the 2006 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Appleby's best previous score on the PGA Tour? He shot 62 at the formerly named Las Vegas Invitational.

Now it all makes sense. Well, not really, but kudos to you Stuart.

MINI-TIDBITS

- The PGA Tour gets one player back from the injured list, but adds another to that list. World No. 12 Anthony Kim, who has been out since early May due to thumb surgery, returns this week at the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational. As he returns, Robert Allenby takes a break. The Australian, who is ranked 14th in the world, was fishing in the Bahamas over the weekend and slipped on his boat. He tore ligaments in his right knee and already had surgery. He may be ready to return in three weeks for the FedEx Cup playoffs.

- Is there any question that Jeff Overton is the hottest player on the PGA Tour right now? Overton has two second-place finishes and two third-place finishes in his last seven starts. He is a virtual lock to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team. That will be the first time he played on a national team since playing in the 2005 Walker Cup.

- Phil Mickelson again has a chance to knock Tiger Woods out of the top spot in the world rankings with a win this week. Vijay Singh was the last player other than Woods to own the top spot, topping the rankings early in the 2005 season. Someone other than Singh or Mickelson also has a chance to overtake Woods. Lee Westwood could become No. 1 with a win this week and Woods finishing worse than a two-way tie for second.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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