Cameron Tringale tied a career best by shooting a 63 on Saturday at the 3M Open, his first round that low since 2011. He may have broken a record by shooting the most polite 63 in history.
Even while trying to climb the leaderboard and take what at one point in the day was a realistic shot at a 59, Tringale and his caddie, David Clark, thanked every volunteer they passed at TPC Twin Cities. Tringale offered his trail mix to his playing partners. With no fans on the course, you could hear Tringale, Bernd Wiesberger and Chase Koepka chatting as they walked down every fairway.
“I love where my game’s at,’’ he said.
Tringale’s 63 moved him into a tie for sixth heading into Sunday’s final round, and revealed much about the reality of the PGA Tour and its humble stop in Blaine:
• There are so many exceptional golfers in the world that you can be someone like Tringale and rarely be heard from.
Tringale is 32. He’s been on the tour since 2010. He’s 6-2, 185 pounds and looks like he works out between workouts. He has a smooth, powerful swing … and ranks 101st in the FedEx playoff chase and 206th in the world, and his only PGA Tour win came when he had a partner, Jason Day, in the 2013 Franklin Templeton Shootout.
You can be a really good golfer and remain utterly anonymous.
• If you can stay on tour, you can make quite a living. Without a victory as an individual PGA Tour member, Tringale has made $11.5 million on tour. Tiger Woods might consider that tip money, but in the real world that’s a good living.
• Eagles made and missed can define rounds, tournaments and careers.
Saturday, Tringale jump-started his round with an eagle on the par-4 16th hitting driver to the middle of the green on the 283-yard hole, then making the putt. “I went from minus-3 to minus-5,’’ he said.
And his round hit the brakes when, on the par-5 sixth hole (his 15th hole of the day), he fanned a fairway wood from about 260 yards to the right, leaving him with a drop from the cart path behind the hole. He hit a flop shot into a bunker, then got up and down to save par, but parring par 5s is what keeps you from the winners’ circle.
• Golf is not a game of inches. It’s a game of blades. Grass blades. Tringale shot a 30 on his first nine, which was the back nine on Saturday. He hit his approach to a couple of feet on his 10th hole, No. 1, and then played out of the rough to the middle of the No. 2 green. His left-to-right curler kissed the low side of the hole. Had he made that, he would have been 8 under through 11 holes, and a 59 — golf’s unicorn — would have been in reach.
“I chipped in once, dropped in a few decent putts, drove it well, put myself in position to attack and really stayed out of trouble except for the last hole,’’ Tringale said. “Yeah, everything was firing and it was a fun day.’’
On his final hole, Tringale pulled his drive left, then clipped a tree on his second shot, leaving him with a difficult up-and-down from the fairway. He barely missed another putt, and had to “settle’’ for a 63.
• A 63 is an exceptional score for any player on any course, and it guarantees you nothing. All Tringale’s 63 earned him was a chance to come from four shots behind on Sunday. He may need another 63 to win.
“Golf’s a game of confidence,’’ he said. “I love where I’m at, I love where my game’s at. Sundays are a different day, so I’m excited about the opportunity.’’
Sunday, Tringale will earn his first partner-free victory on the PGA Tour … or he’ll be just another anonymous pro collecting a nice check and moving to his next stop.