With everyone on the PGA Tour shooting 58s and 59s nowadays, it’s hard to pick one round more impressive than the next. But in December 2000, there was a particular 13-under 59 that I believe trumps every sub-60 round before or after. (Well, maybe except for Double D’s double-fist-pumping extravaganza. That was insane.)
Who was responsible for this unicorn round? Who could have played a round more impressive than Jim Furyk’s 58 at the 2016 Travelers or Shigeki Maruyama’s 58 at Woodmont at a Maryland U.S. Open qualifier? David Gossett, that’s who—and he did it at the 2000 PGA Tour Qualifying School.
What makes this 59 so impressive was that it earned a young, aspiring tour player his card for the next year and helped him achieve a goal that he had been striving for his entire life up to that point. Ask any PGA Tour player what they would prefer—a 58 to place 5th in a regular tour event or a 59 in Q-School to get on the Tour—and he will say the latter. It just means more.
I once watched David Gossett hit balls on a Las Vegas driving range and recognized immediately that he was a special golfer. He was hitting shots I couldn’t imagine, and I was playing to a plus-5 at the time. He had an astounding amount of talent, and in my opinion rivaled the abilities of Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, and Bill Haas. By all rights, he should still be on tour with 12 wins and a U.S. Open.
David Spencer Gossett was born on April 28, 1979 in Phoenix, Arizona, and learned golf from his father. At the age of 10, he competed in his first tournament and was hooked. After a solid junior career, David attended the University of Texas, where he was a two-time first-team All American, won the Big 12 Championship, and in 1999 was crowned the Big 12 Student-Athlete of the Year.
His biggest achievement, however, came when he won the 1999 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach, drumming Sung Yoon Kim 9 & 8. Winning the Amateur got him an invite to the next year’s Masters, where he easily made the cut. David was ready for the big show, and after shooting that 59 at Q-School the next winter, he began what turned out to be a brief and confusing PGA Tour career.
With his confidence riding high, Gossett joined the Buy.com (precursor to the Korn Ferry) Tour in 2001 and had a great start. After earning a spot in the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic that summer, Gossett won, pocketing a cool half million.
He was on top of the golfing world, with everyone from Johnny Miller to Lanny Wadkins touting him as the next big thing. With his John Deere win, he graduated full-time to the PGA Tour on a two-year exemption.
In 2002, he made the cut in 60% of his starts and had three top 10s. Solid. In 2003, he made 18 of 28 cuts made and notched another top 10. Acceptable. In 2004, however, he struggled, making just 2 cuts in 25 starts and placing in the top 10 zero times. Dismal.
Gosestt found himself caught in the downward spiral of making changes to turn things around. He felt that finishing in the 80-100 range on the money list was unacceptable. He wanted to compete in the majors. But two years in a row, he fell short of the second stage of qualifying school, one time by 10 shots. While he did get into the 2014 U.S. Open through local and sectional qualifying, he missed the cut, shooting rounds of 76 and 72.
Gossett at the 2014 U.S. Open
Gossett now plays events on the Adams Tour and around his hometown of Austin, Texas. In 2015, he competed in eight tournaments and made just four cuts. His best finish was a T-14, for which he made $1,500. He jokes with his wife that “the jet is in the shop” and keeps a generally positive attitude about descended the ranks of the competitive game over the years.
Ultimately, you have to respect David Gossett for not quitting. There are plenty of opportunities for a tour winner to settle into a comfortable life, but he is still striving to find the swing I saw in Las Vegas, the swing that won him $2.5 million on the biggest tour in the world.