Sandy • Chad Collins, a 34-year-old journeyman who has made it to the PGA Tour three times, only to lose his card and fall back into the minor leagues of professional golf each time, describes himself as a "small-town country boy" who likes to hunt and fish as much, if not more, than he likes to golf.
At Willow Creek Country Club on Friday afternoon in the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship, Collins almost almost added golf's magic number next to his name.
Collins flirted with a round of 59, but made pars on his last six holes at par-71 Willow Creek after getting to 11 under. He finished with a course-record 60 in the second round to grab a three-shot lead heading into the weekend.
"It was a sweet day, one of those days you dream about," Collins said after shooting a 27 on his first nine holes, having started on tournament No. 10 (No. 1 for Willow Creek members). "It doesn't happen very often when you get a chance to shoot 59, or in the 20s on any nine. It was just one of those days."
Actually, it was one of those wind-free days where Willow Creek was pretty much defenseless against some of the world's top golfers. Three others Jamie Lovemark, Ashley Hall and Alex Cejka shot 9-under-par 62s after overnight and early-morning rain showers softened the greens and made scoring conditions perfect.
"I mean, not really. We are just good," said Cejka, the one-time PGA Tour star, when asked if Willow Creek is too easy for these guys.
Former USC star Lovemark, Canadian Adam Hadwin and first-round co-leader Brian Prouty of Arizona are in the group at 13 under, three shots behind Collins, while there are five guys at 12 under and three more at -11. The final group Collins and Lovemark tees off at 2:20 p.m. Saturday.
The cut came at 6 under, meaning that the 20-footer that Farmington's Clay Ogden, the former BYU golfer, made on No. 18 got him in, just barely. The only other Utahn to make it to the weekend was first-round co-leader B.J. Staten of Cottonwood Heights, who is now tied for 20th at 134.
Dusty Fielding of St. George, by way of Richfield, was among 18 golfers who fired 5-under-par 137s and missed it by one shot. Willow Creek surrendered 18 bogey-free rounds on Friday, 11 on Thursday.
But on this day, at least, the excitement was at the top of the leaderboard as Collins made his remarkable run. He almost got to 12 under on his 13th hole, the par-5 No. 3, but left an eagle putt in the jaws.
He didn't get a good look at birdie the rest of the way, but did acknowledge forgetting that the course plays as a par-71 for the tournament, the 18th hole shortened to a par-3.
On his final hole, playing partner Marco Dawson said, "You need to get one more. Let's get one more [birdie]," which reminded Collins that 59 was still possible.
"It kinda boosted me up again," he said. "It kinda gave me new life, because I knew I had an opportunity on the last hole."
However, his approach shot was 20 feet below the hole, and his birdie putt slid by, forcing him to settle for the 60 and become the 19th player in tour history to shoot that number. Only three players Notah Begay, Doug Dunakey and Jason Gore have shot 59 in the tour's history.
"I didn't think it was in the cards for shooting something like that," Collins said. "I kinda got blindsided, I guess you could say. ... That opening nine, that was special."
Chad Collins -16
Jame Lovemark -13
Adam Hadwin -13
Brian Prouty -13
B.J. Staten -8
Clay Ogden -6