Oli Fisher: 59. It still doesn't look right next to his name. One year on, the Essex star takes us through the lowest round ever in European Tour history
After 46 years and approximately 690,000 rounds Oli Fisher went one better than the 19 players who had managed to shoot 60 on the European Tour. On Friday September 21, 2018, the Essex star went out in 28 around Vilamoura’s Dom Pedro Victoria course and came home in 31 for an historic 59. On the PGA Tour there have been 10 of them, as well as Jim Furyk’s 58, but nobody here had managed it despite various close shaves. Fisher talks us through that incredible day…
Sometimes I’ve had great warm-ups and shot really bad scores and other times I’ve had really bad warm-ups and shot a really good score.
For my warm-up I just go through my bag so I hit shots with 9-7-5-3 irons and then some drivers and 3-woods, then I’ll play four holes and try and visualise things and picture the shots and the wind before I go out there.
People are generally relaxed at the Portugal Masters. The weather’s good, it’s easy to get to, the hotel’s nice, and a lot of players have their families there.
They’ve made a few changes to the course, I first went there in 2007 and I thought then that the course was as good as anywhere in terms of condition and it always plays well.
This time last year I was struggling a bit with my driver and the Victoria course gives you a bit more freedom off the tee and there are a lot of shortish par 4s and the 5s are gettable in two.
On the day I was going out to try and shoot 5-under to make the cut as I was level par on Thursday. I birdied the first three, parred 4 which might be the easiest chance on the front nine, and then holed a bunker shot at the 5th. I birdied 6 and the 7th is a strong 4 and that was an important par for me. The goal was just to make the cut.
The front-nine 28 is the lowest I’ve had on tour. I’ve had a few 29s and in Essex, where I grew up, the front-nine par is 34 so I would have been lower there.
My dad was out watching and I saw my wife by the 8th green but it was all quite relaxed. At that point there weren’t many out watching, I felt alright with my game, there wasn’t much wind and it was just a nice morning. There was less pressure about the cut so that was good – and then I birdied 10, 11 and 12
The tee shot at 12 has caused me a bit of a headache in the past. It probably suits a draw and I was hitting a little fade so I would have to start it down the water line to have a chance of reaching in two. I spooned it up a bit and right but I got a nice lie and that was one of my best shots.
It was quite an aggressive shot, there was a TV tower right of the green and I drew a 5-wood to about 25 feet. I left the first putt three feet short and that was the first time I had a bit of a smelly, downhill one and the cameras were now on me. That was the first bit of anticipation and, had I not birdied that, to pick up another three shots would have been a tall order.
I knew what I was doing. Gary Murphy and the Sky TV cameras were out and then things started to change a little bit as a few people came out to follow us. I hit a great shot to 13 and hit a good aggressive putt which finished two and a half feet by.
The 15th is a short par 4 and the 17th is a par 5 where you could get on in two so I felt like there were chances and I had nothing to lose.
Things felt a bit scrappy towards the end but I holed a good putt at 15 from 12 feet and then a good putt for par at 16 and I said to [caddie] Guy [Tilston] at the back of the green that you don’t get many chances to shoot 59 so let’s try and enjoy it.
That was all I was thinking about and this is what we were doing so instead of not saying anything I felt like I had to get it out there. And I did relax the last couple of holes.
At 17 I hit a good drive, a strong high fade, and I had a 5-iron which was quite a long way and either going to be perfect or in the water. I knew it would be fine as long as I struck it alright, it was on a slight upslope and I just had to commit to it. It sounds obvious but if you get it online it’s one of those holes where you can have a chance of an eagle.
I needed par on 18 and I was thinking I was either going to birdie it for a 58 or at worst shoot a 60 or 61.
I left myself a 30-footer downhill and right to left and I was bricking myself. But I was in control of my processes and I managed to repeat what I had been doing all day and I still had great feel. It lipped out on the high side.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 21, 2018
It’s great to be that guy who managed to finish it off and I feel quite proud of that and my caddie and the course played a big part. I kept my card there in 2015 which was a lot more pressure.
Robert Rock had a putt for 59 in Ireland this year. I was out a couple of groups after him and I could see what he was doing. Rocky’s a good friend of mine and Lahinch is a tough course, so to have done it there would have been a much better 59 than mine.
It’s hard to get momentum early there, in Portugal I had that. Rocky’s finish of six straight birdies is unheard of.
I’ve never shot anything in the 50s as a junior or amateur. I think 5-under is my lowest around West Essex in a medal. My lowest as a pro was maybe 9-under?
People call me ‘Mr 59’ which is nice. Someone joked the other week ‘great 59 Oli’ and people know me a bit for it. I’ve got the scorecard in the boot of my car, I’m going to get it framed.
Oli Fisher was speaking to Mark Townsend ahead of the 2019 Portugal Masters to be hosted at Dom Pedro Victoria.