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updated: 9/13/2013 9:04 PM

Nervous Furyk exorcises some demons

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  • Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com Jim Furyk tips his hat after shooting 59 during the second-round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest Friday.

      Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com Jim Furyk tips his hat after shooting 59 during the second-round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest Friday.

 
 

There was little doubt that someone was going to tear apart Conway Farms this week.

In fact, it was nearly certain that a couple or three Tour pros would reach 20-under par.

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But if you had Jim Furyk making a run at PGA Tour history in the office pool, well, your office manager runs some strange pools and probably needs counseling.

As for you, that's a big ticket worth cashing.

Furyk didn't just tear apart the course Friday, he destroyed the course mark, the BMW Championship record and made history with the sixth round of 59 in more than 100 years of professional golf.

The man who won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup in 2010 is also tied at 11 under with Brandt Snedeker for the BMW Championship lead.

"It'll sink in later," said the typically mild-mannered Furyk on Friday evening. "I have to calm down later on tonight and realize that I've got myself in contention in a golf tournament -- but I'll enjoy it for the next few hours.''

Furyk might have been the last guy anyone would have picked to close with 2 birdies in the last 3 holes, staring down 59 and handling the pressure of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Let's face it, the last couple years Furyk has looked nothing less than terrible under the toughest of circumstances, going back to the snap hook at Olympic into the woods on the back nine that cost him the U.S. Open in 2012.

Then there was the horrific putting display on the back nine at the Ryder Cup that contributed in a big way to the U.S. defeat, and his inability to overtake Jason Dufner at the PGA Championship this year, a major winner unable to beat a first-time major champ.

And after shooting 28 on the front, Furyk -- who hit every fairway Friday and missed only one green -- showed some signs of cracking on his back nine as he walked the front. He was 11 under with 5 holes to play, needing to play just 1-under on the par-71 course to shoot 59 -- or maybe shoot the first 58 in history on a blustery day when the average score of the field was 71.

On the fifth, he ran a long birdie putt 5 feet past the hole and then lipped the comebacker for a 3-putt bogey and fell back to 10-under par.

On the par-3 sixth, his shot to the middle of the green was safe, but the 22-footer back down the hill was tentative and he left himself a 30-inch putt, which he made to save par.

"It was a little hectic down the stretch," Furyk said. "The 3-putt at five, I hit 2 good putts that didn't go in, and then you could tell the nerves at six when I left the putt short."

Needing two birds in the last three holes to shoot 59, Furyk hit iron on the drivable par-4 seventh, playing it safe to the right side of the fairway. With a wedge in from about 130, Furyk dropped it 8 feet past the hole and made his bird to get back to 11 under.

He had a great chance to get another on the par-5 eighth, but the ultraconservative Furyk was surprisingly aggressive and went for the green in two from 238 yards, when a layup and chip would have meant an easy birdie putt.

Furyk was fortunate to narrowly miss the worst bunker on the course fronting the green. From the rough with a tough stance and short-sided, he chipped out to 17 feet and missed the birdie putt.

"I was kind of caught in between clubs on eight between my hybrid and 3-wood, and it was a very difficult pin," Furyk said. "I felt like if I hit 3-wood I might run it through up into the rough behind the green.

"That was probably the only swing on the way in that I didn't feel like I made really good contact. I hit that ball just a touch thin with the hybrid and I had to hit it really good to get it up in the air to carry.

"The lie actually probably looked worse than it was. The only difficult thing was the ball was so far above my feet, I had to aim pretty far right of the pin. I was bummed I didn't get that at eight, but I knew I had a great chance at nine."

All Furyk did was hit a perfect drive and leave himself a great angle from just 103 yards, before sticking his gap wedge 3 feet, 3 inches from the hole.

While Furyk repaired his ball mark a fan yelled, "We're giving you the putt, Jim." Furyk laughed and waved, and Jason Dufner motioned that Furyk could pick it up.

He didn't need the help. The putt was perfect and Furyk -- bypassed for the Presidents Cup because of his history under pressure -- had finished a magical day and done something only five men before him had ever accomplished.

The gallery that got larger with every one of his last seven holes went berserk and Furyk celebrated with the fans, while crediting Gary Woodland with keeping him loose.

"I thanked him after nine," Furyk said. "I kind of needed that because I found myself pacing back and forth, and I went and asked him a question. We were just talking about wedges in general, because we both play Callaway equipment, and we started into the football. I kind of was smiling when I was over my drive. I actually quit thinking about trying to shoot 59 there for a few minutes.

"I feel great. Absolutely the greatest round of my life. Tomorrow we play golf again."

Whether he's shaken the demons remains to be seen, but Jim Furyk with all his troubles has made history in Lake Forest.

That's his to keep.

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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