Tim­ing is ev­ery­thing as Furyk shoots a 65

Los Angeles Times - - High School Football - Jeff Shain re­port­ing from at­lanta jshain@or­lan­dosen­tinel.com

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.”

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