ATLANTA (AP) Jim Furyk, the only American on the Ryder Cup team without a win this year, now has another chance to change that.
Furyk made seven birdies through 10 holes Friday at East Lake – including seven 3s to start the round – until he missed a few greens on the back nine that slowed his momentum. He wound up with a 6-under 64, giving him a one-shot lead over Justin Rose going into the weekend at the Tour Championship.
For all the 3s on his card – nine of the first 11 holes – Furyk was irritated about not making one at the par-3 18th. He missed a 5-footer, and slammed his yardage back onto the table in the scoring trailer when he went to sign his card.
Perspective returned a short time later. He was at 7-under 133 on a course where he won just two years ago. And while he is remembered for squandering chances to win at the U.S. Open and Firestone this year, the next opportunity is right in front of him.
Rose, who shared the 18-hole lead with Tiger Woods, made four birdies on the back nine and holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 68.
Woods went the other direction.
He was right in the mix when he made the turn, despite a double bogey on the eighth hole, But a series of bad swings that put him in bad positions led to four bogeys on the back nine, and Woods had a 73. It was his worst score at East Lake in 14 years, dating to a 76 in the second round in 1998. He was six strokes behind.
“I’m still right there,” Woods said, but he has 10 players in front of him.
Bo Van Pelt made three bogeys on the last four holes and still had a 68 that put him two shots behind at 135, along with Masters champion Bubba Watson (66). Dustin Johnson, who had to summon his college teammate from Coastal Carolina to caddie for him when his regular had back problems, had a 67 and was another shot back, along with Georgia Tech alum Matt Kuchar (69).
Rory McIlroy, who is leading the FedEx Cup, made an eagle on the 15th that turned around his fortunes. He had a 68 and was only four shots behind.
Furyk hasn’t won since he turned his cap around in the rain, saved par from a bunker and won the Tour Championship in 2010, along with the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus. He lost in a four-man playoff at Innisbrook. He was tied for the lead at the U.S. Open with three holes to play – two of them par 5s – until he hooked his tee shot into the trees and made bogey on the 16th. And he led at Firestone from the opening round until chopping up the final hole for a double bogey to lose by one.
“I think that my personality is that I’m 75 percent mad that I haven’t closed the door,” he said. “I have to be reminded, whether it’s my teacher or my caddie or my wife or whoever it may be, that `You’re playing well. Be patient. Let it happen.’ Instead of the silver lining in the cloud, I’m definitely tougher on myself than anyone else.”
Furyk was close to perfect on the front nine at East Lake.
He spent close to an hour on the practice range Thursday afternoon, mostly hitting his driver, and it paid off in the second round. East Lake can only be attacked from the fairway, and only one of Furyk’s six birdie putts on the front nine was over 5 feet – that as a 15-footer on his opening hole.
“It was obviously a fun day,” Furyk said.