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Furyk in Rarefied Air With a 59 at BMW Championship
What do you do when you're trying to catch someone who shot a 63 the day before? If you're Jim Furyk, you go a few better than that and shoot 59, and join the company of immortals.
Furyk, who has seen many a heartbreak in the spotlight over the past 18 months, shot a 1-over par in the first round of the BMW Championship, stumbling his way around the course with a couple double-bogeys marring his scorecard.
But today's round was different. In so many ways. Yes, today's round was brilliant. Eleven birdies and an eagle. And he even threw in a bogey (without which he would have shot 58. Yikes.).
He becomes just the sixth player in PGA TOUR history to shoot the magic number. His previous career low round was a 62, which he has shot five times.
He is tied for the lead, and will be paired with Brandt Snedeker in Saturday's third round. Here's what he had to say afterward about his historic round.
MODERATOR: Congratulations on a fantastic round. I'll turn it over to you for some opening comments and then we'll open it up and take some questions.
JIM FURYK: Actually a very cool card. It's too bad it goes with a 72. Pretty exciting day. I think obviously to jump out of the gates this morning, birdieing the first three, then made a birdie at 14, hole it on 15, probably the key putt of the day was I made the longest well, I wouldn't say the longest, but the key putt of the day was probably making about a 15-footer to save par at 16 and then birdied 17 and 18.
Getting off, I've never shot 28 before to start with, so it was an exciting day, and it kind of dawned on me at the turn that it would only - 'only' is a tough way to say it - but it only takes 4 under on the front, which doesn't seem too far out of reach to kind of break the barrier of 60.
So I tried to basically the way I played it out in my head was that the back nine was over. I wasn't going to kind of count that I had to get to 12 under, where I was at. I was just going to go try to play the front nine and shoot as low as I could. I figured let's see if we can get it to 4 under. I was trying to take the nerves out of it, and heck, I've shot 4 under par on nine holes probably 100 times in my career. Probably even more.
You know, the birdies at having the putt go in at 2, 3 and 4, a long one at 3, it just kind of made the day pretty exciting, and obviously 5 was a little bit of a blip. I hit a great first putt, it was just a touch hard, and that pin was tough and icy, and it got by and I hit a pretty good second putt, it probably lacked a little speed and lipped out on the low side.
It was a little bit of a bummer, but I was able to hit a great shot into 6, and I think that's when the nerves kicked in a little bit, and I left it probably a little short after running one by on 5.
But seeing the putt go in at 7 was a big help mentally, knowing that I figured 8 was going to be reachable and I figured 9 was going to be a short iron, I knew the pin was in a pretty benign spot on No. 9, so making the putt at 7 gave me what I thought was two good opportunities to shoot 59 and was bummed that I didn't do it on No. 8 but was excited about the opportunity on 9 after I drove it down the middle.
Q. You mentioned the nerves. Could you talk about what you felt and how they were different from nerves you've felt in other situations?
JIM FURYK: Not too much different. I mean, it was you know, the one thing was it was so tough to get aggressive with the putter because the greens are so dried out in spots and so fast, and some of those pin placements, like the one at 5 is sitting on the side of a ledge. 8 is a little bit like that.
So the tough part was I wanted to be aggressive and I wanted to give it a good run and try to knock the putt in like I did at 8, but then I knock it five feet by. So there were a lot of putts out there that felt kind of defensive if you didn't get the ball on the right side of the hole, and that's kind of it for me a nervous feeling.
I want to be aggressive, but I know I really can't in spots because of where the pin placements are. It wasn't that much different than trying to win a golf tournament. It was just different. And I guess the moment kind of struck me the most at No. 9, when I hit the wedge shot in there close, and the crowd erupted and I started looking around and it just hit me how many people had come over to that side to see the finish and how excited the crowd was. It was kind of like winning a golf tournament to be honest with you, is the reaction I got. It made it that much more fun.
Q. I know Olympia Fields has a special place in your heart, so now will you think of Conway in the same way?
JIM FURYK: It'll definitely always have a special place in my heart, there's no doubt there. You know, I don't know. I think time will I need this to kind of sit in. It just happened. I've been doing interviews and signing autographs. It'll take a while.
Tonight a lot of it'll set in, exactly what happened and what I accomplished. But I think it'll probably take weeks and even months for me to kind of figure it out, maybe see where everything falls and how someone has already asked me where I felt it rated in my career for accomplishments. I always thought of big moments like winning my first event out here, winning the major at Olympia. I always felt being part of the Brookline team was really cool when we came back. But this definitely falls right in the mix with those. I wouldn't want to try to order them to be honest with you, but it'll take me a while to actually be able to figure out where this all falls.
Q. When you're talking about the nerves on the final holes, how much did it help being able to talk football with Gary?
JIM FURYK: Did the TV pick that up?
Q. Gary told us.
JIM FURYK: I thanked him after nine. I said, I kind of needed that because I found myself pacing back and forth, and I went and asked him a question, I noticed one of the wedges in his bag and 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 getting ready to hit my drive. I actually quit thinking about trying to shoot 59 there for a few minutes, which was a good thing, really.
Q. Talking to Fluff, he said that he was thinking about it, too, until you said, using his terms, you three wiggled that five. Can you talk about what you thought about after that and did you think that you might have given something up there?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I definitely thought that I might have given up an opportunity. I knew that standing on the 4th tee I felt like I really had to get through 4, 5 and 6. I knew that 7, 8, 9, just by where the wind condition was, I knew I was going to play those mostly downwind. 7 was short; I was going to have a wedge in my hand. 8 might be reachable. And 9 was short; I might have a wedge in my hand. I felt like the opportunities were there, but I had to get through 4, 5, 6, and I made the birdie at 4, hit it in there about five feet, and that gave me a big lift.
I actually almost made that putt on 5, the first one. If I hit it just a touch easier I might have knocked it in. But regrouping and hitting such a good iron shot at 6 and making par, kind of the way I played it in my head was, okay, you got through those three even par, they're tough holes, 4, 5 and 6.
Q. Can you just talk about the lie at 8, too?
JIM FURYK: It actually probably looked a lot worse than it was. The only difficult thing about that lie was the ball was so far above my feet, so I had to aim pretty far right of the pin. Had that been a pretty level lie, if I would have been standing even with the ball, that would have been one that I really felt like I should have got up and down more often than not. I wanted to get a little aggressive with it, I wanted to really make sure that I didn't get cute and decel or try to get too cute with the shot, and I thought it was going to come out a lot more I was going to catch a lot more grass in between the blade. I thought it was going to come out a lot softer, so I made a pretty good play, but it came out a little quicker than I expected.
Q. With all the advances in technology and how much better players are today over the years, are you surprised there haven't been more 59s or --
JIM FURYK: It's so easy, yeah.
Q. I didn't mean it like that, obviously. It just seems that it's a hard number to get to, even though equipment is better, players are better, and we see a lot of good scoring out here.
JIM FURYK: I think a lot of it really was it really was a mental battle and a mental grind, trying to I'm still scratching my head a little bit. 12 under for a round of golf. If you sat me down 10 feet from the hole 18 times today, I wasn't going to make 12 out of the 18 more than likely. So I always scratch my head and try to figure out how you get to 59.
We get on a roll once in a while, and every shot I hit today seemed to turn out pretty good for the most part. The one at 8 could have buried it right underneath that wall and I would have been in trouble, but I actually was in a pretty good lie uphill. I actually had a good chance to get it up and down. I had some shots today that 4, I hit a little low draw in there with a 4 iron and it bounces up and ends up four feet. I mean, that could take a bounce one way or the other and I could have had a 20 footer.
So I think things kind of went my way and I hit a lot of good shots and a lot of good putts and today they all kind of went in. Yesterday I struggled a little bit and after a good start wasn't able to kind of see those positive things.
Am I surprised it hasn't happened more often? Now it's cool. I like being one of the six. I don't need seven. Six is fine with me. It'll keep happening. It'll keep happening. There's too many talented players out here. You get on a roll on some good greens, you never know what'll happen.
Q. You talked a little bit about this last week, but there's a lot of people who either watched today or are going to see this and probably make some correlation to the week after being left off the Presidents Cup team. Any thoughts on that?
JIM FURYK: No, I think I was prepared for someone to ask about it. You know, I've done actually probably only a handful of interviews since Fred made his selections. I think what I've told everyone is I talked to you about it is I was disappointed. I was bummed about it, but I'm not really like a spiteful person. I didn't go out there with a chip on my shoulder to prove anything to anyone this week. I feel like my career has spoken for itself, and I really don't have anything to prove to anyone.
I just want to play well. I want to go out there and try to contend and play well in a golf tournament and get myself in position for the FedExCup.
I felt like I moved on pretty well. It took me two or three days to kind of put it behind me, and I think it was a couple days before I talked to Fred, but once we kind of got all that taken care of, I kind of put it behind me and kind of made my mind up that I was just going to come here and to Atlanta and kind of feel like I've got an opportunity to really finish off and make it a good year, so let's do the best we can.
The last couple of days have been a little awkward for me because I have had to talk a little bit to the media about it, and that I expected, but I also spoke to some of my friends about it. I had breakfast with Strick yesterday and sat down with him and Zach Johnson, we were talking about the teams. It was a bummer. I'm happy for them because they're really good friends of mine, and I respect their game and I wish them well. I hope they continue to play well for the U.S. side. But it was definitely a bummer, and I kind of had to go through those emotions again a little bit. So yesterday I was a little grouchy to be honest with you.
But I felt like last night I kind of kicked myself in the rear end and said, you know, it's done with. It's over with. I know the emotions came back up, but there's nothing I can do to change it now. It's over, and let's just focus on this week.
I talked to my dad a little bit about my round and told him I felt like I played a lot better than 1 over. He kind of gave me advice that it's a long week, it's four rounds. You told me you're hitting the ball well, you told me you're putting the ball well. Just be patient. Just go out there and play golf, and you've got three days to get it back.
I did it all in one day, but...
I think what's going to be now the mental battle now isn't going to be I shot the good round, it's fun to get the attention, it's fun to be here, and I think I'm tied for the lead. I did ask that in the scoring trailer. But now I think it's going to be to kind of forget all that that's happened today. Tomorrow is a new day for better or for worse, and really focus on trying to play a solid round on Saturday to get myself in contention for Saturday.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy ASAP Sports.