Victoria golfer Cory Renfrew shoots a rare 59

Cory Renfrew was breathing in some rarefied air in the desert on Tuesday.

The Victoria golfer turned in the All-American Golf Tour’s first round of 59, recording the elusive mark that has only been done five times in official events on the prestigious PGA Tour and three times on the fledgling Tour, when it was previously known as the Nationwide and Nike Tours.

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Renfrew’s day — in the first round of the sixth event on the mini All-American Tour being played at the Legacy Golf Resort in Phoenix — included an eagle and 10 birdies on the 6,946-yard, par-71 course.

“Throughout the round I did a good job of staying in the moment and just playing each shot and each putt when I came to it,” Renfrew relayed in a brief email. “Near the end, I knew I was close to breaking 60, but didn’t know the total par and didn’t bother to look or count my card.

“I just wrote down numbers (without any circles) and added it up after,” added Renfrew, who started on the back nine after a frost delay. “It was still pretty chilly out when we got going.”

It heated up as he birdied his first (the 10th hole), added another at No. 13, then holed out from 110 yards for eagle on the par-5 14th. Two more birdies at 16 and 17 allowed him to turn at 6-under. Renfrew added three straight birdies on his front nine and shaved a stroke at each of the sixth, eighth and ninth.

“I made about a 10-footer on the last for a 30 coming in,” added Renfrew, who was unable to get back to numerous interested supporters.

His former boss Lance McCullough, the head pro at Cordova Bay Golf Course, hadn’t heard from him either.

“He’s too good to talk to us now,” McCullough said with a laugh. “It’s an incredible, incredible round. It’s quite something to see, and we’re curious to see where his name will pop up on the web or in different circles because it is so rare.”

But McCullough did add that Renfrew shot a 58 at Cordova Bay in August.

“To shoot 58 like he did out here with a group of buddies is one thing, but to do it in competition is a different animal altogether,” McCullough said. “He seems to be able to get into that zone more frequently than the average person.”

Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa recorded a 58 on the Japanese Tour in 2010, as did Shigeki Maruyama in a U.S. Open qualifying round in 2000 and Jason Bohn at the Bayer Championship on the Canadian Tour in 2001.

Renfrew had finished tied for seventh in last week’s All-American tour event with rounds of 69-67-67, earning him $2,497.50. The previous week, his rounds of 68-72-71 left him tied for 18th as he cashed in $1,467.

The former Cordova Bay assistant currently sits 30th on the All-American Tour money list, but he has only played in two of the six events.

Last season, Renfrew turned pro, earning his Canadian Tour card, and placed third on the overall Order of Merit with $41,436.71, finishing behind only Canadians Matt Hill and Michael Gligic. Renfrew finished tied for second at the opening event, the Times Colonist Island Savings Open in Victoria in June, where he made $11,700.

Three weeks later, he won the Syncrude Boreal Open in Fort McMurray, Alta., earning the $24,000 top prize with rounds of

74-64-73-63 — the final-day 63 establishing a course record.

He played both the All-American and Gateway Tours last winter before earning his Canadian Tour card.

The All-American Tour is an Arizona-based pro circuit that provides up-and-coming golfers a place to play in the winter months. Renfrew finished second at an event last January. This season, the All-American Tour will feature four Tour exemptions and a winner-take-all championship that has $50,000 up for grabs.

He has a five-shot lead at this week’s event after Tuesday’s remarkable round.

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