Furyk takes route 59 to join elite club
Before he could take his place in PGA Tour history with a 59, Jim Furyk had to get in the right frame of mind.
He was grouchy after the opening round of the BMW Championship. The day that began over breakfast with two friends who are on the Presidents Cup, a stinging reminder that Furyk was left off an American team for the first time in 15 years. Then, he opened with a 72 at Conway Farms and already was nine shots out of the lead.
"I kind of kicked myself in the rear end and said, 'You know, it's done with. There's nothing I can do to change it now. It's over, and let's just focus on this week'," Furyk said. "[My dad] gave me advice that it's a long week, it's four rounds. ... 'You've got three days to get it back'."
Furyk paused to smile.
"I did it all in one day," he said.
It was one magical day, where Furyk became the sixth player to shoot 59 in PGA Tour history. The significance of his round could be measured in how he did it - the first 59 that featured a bogey - and the response from his peers.
In so many words: "Are you kidding me?"
Furyk was 11 shots better than the course average, and a whopping six shots better than anyone else could manage.
Zach Johnson shot a 70 when he was told Furyk was 11 under on the day with two holes remaining. "For the day? Seriously?" he replied. "I don't have anything to say about that. That's ridiculous."
Brandt Snedeker had no idea he was nine shots ahead of Furyk at the start of the day, so when he saw Furyk's name quickly climbing the leaderboard, he just assumed it was a good round of golf - not a great one. That changed when Snedeker saw that Furyk needed a birdie on the last for 59.
"I thought, 'What the heck? Are you serious? There's no way'," Snedeker said. "On a day like this when the wind is blowing 20 mph out of the north, I don't think anybody out here saw that coming."
Standing in the fairway on his last hole, 103 yards away and a gap wedge in his hand, Furyk realised what was at stake. "I said, 'How many opportunities are you going to have in life to do this again'?" Furyk said. "Got to take advantage of it. Tried to knock it in there tight and make it as easy on yourself as you can."
The ball settled three feet from the cup, and Furyk received a huge ovation walking to the green.
It was the first 59 on the PGA Tour since Stuart Appleby in 2010. The others were Al Geiberger in 1977; Chip Beck in 1991; David Duval in 1999; and Paul Goydos in 2010.
"That makes me feel depressed about my round," Snedeker joked after his 68.
Now comes the hard part for Furyk - there's still that matter of winning a tournament for the first time since the 2010 Tour Championship. His 59 gave him a share of the lead with Snedeker at 11-under 131. "I'll have to calm down later on tonight and realise that I've got myself in contention in a golf tournament where I was nine back starting the day," he said. "But I'll enjoy these next few hours at least and have fun with it."