Timing is everything as Furyk shoots a 65
After Jim Furyk was booted from the Barclays for oversleeping and missing his pro-am tee time, his PGA Tour peers took playful delight in letting him know what they’ll be getting him for Christmas.
“The over-under was 11 on alarm clocks,” Furyk deadpanned. “I took the over.”
If the former U.S. Open champion recovers to win the Tour Championship and grabs the FedEx Cup as a bonus, he can buy his own Big Ben replica.
Furyk’s five-under-par 65 Friday was the best round so far this week, and featured a three-birdie, no-bogey back nine at East Lake Golf Club that drew him even with Luke Donald at the FedEx finale’s midway point.
“Obviously, a good round,” said Furyk, who also has a chance to become the first man this season to notch three PGA Tour victories. “The only thing I can really control is to go out and play good on the weekend, try to win the golf tournament. At that point, there’s nothing else I can do about it.”
Donald carded a 66 to join Furyk at eight-under 132, with Geoff Ogilvy one stroke off the pace after a 67. It was another three shots back to the chase pack, where K.J. Choi stood alone in fourth after a 68.
“It puts the three of us in the driver’s seat,” Furyk said. “There’s a lot of golf still to be played, but if we continue to play well it’ll narrow the [window] for how many guys can catch up. But those guys are only four shots back. Over 36 holes, that’s nothing.”
Furyk stood third in the FedEx points standings at the start of the playoff season, where point totals in the final four events are worth five times their regular-season equivalents. But he never made it to the opening round at the Barclays, subject to a mandatory DQ when he missed his pro-am tee time.
He dropped to No. 8 after his unplanned absence, then three more spots after tying for 37th in Boston. Now he not only needs to win at East Lake but must depend on mediocre performances from points leader Matt Kuchar and four others.
So far, so good. Projected points show that if Furyk wins and everyone else holds their positions, he’d finish 212 points ahead of Kuchar. Of course, there are still 36 holes to be played and East Lake is no pushover.
“It’s not going to be an issue,” Furyk said of Saturday’s round. “I’m not going to be worried about the projections that are up there on the leaderboards.”
Donald also had a steady round, going bogey-free until finding two bunkers at the par-four 13th hole. He recovered with birdies at Nos. 15 and 16 — the second courtesy of a 31-foot putt — to pull even with Furyk.
“As firm and fast as it is out here, it’s tough to hit fairways,” the English pro said. “I’ve been able to shortgame it and kind of get away with it.”
Kuchar followed up his opening 72 with an even-par 70 that looked so much better until three consecutive bogeys to finish.
“It looked like it was going to be a nice day,” he said. “Those are three tough holes.”