Furyk keeps his head together to lead by one shot
American admits mental battle after stunning 59 on Friday
Jim Furyk hits his approach to the 18th hole during the third round of the BMW Championship at the Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois. Jim Young/Reuters
Jim Furyk followed up Friday’s stunning 59 with a two-under 69 on Saturday to ensure he will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the BMW Championship at Lake Forest in Illinois.
The 43-year-old, who in his second round became the only sixth player in US PGA Tour history to post a sub-60 score, took a two-stroke advantage to the par-five 18th at Conway Farms, but a first missed fairway since his 12th hole in the first round proved costly.
He went on to three-putt from 30 feet, missing a par putt from inside five feet, but remained top of the pile on 13 under – narrowly ahead of Steve Stricker.
Stricker surged into contention on Saturday with a 64, highlighted by an eagle at the par-four 15th.
Brandt Snedeker, who shared the midway lead with Furyk, was two shots off the pace after a level-par 71, with Zach Johnson (69) a further stroke adrift and world number one Tiger Woods (66) nine under, despite being hit with a two-shot penalty after Friday’s second round.
Rory McIlroy enjoyed his first decent round of the week, but a three-under 68 still left the Ulsterman on 10 over. Graeme McDowell carded a one-over 72 and starts the final round on two over.
Furyk acknowledged there had been a “mental battle” in following up his brilliant 59, but had now set his sights on the bigger challenge of winning his first US PGA Tour title in three years,
The 2003 US Open champion said: “I got myself in position to win this golf tournament.
“How upset are you going to get today? I think there’s probably a mental battle to (the next round). I felt good with my swing today. I felt like I played a solid round of golf.
“I think winning a golf tournament is obviously the tougher one. It’s been a while. I’m going to put pressure on myself. That’ll be the struggle.”
Woods appeared to be revelling in the presence of Sergio Garcia, playing alongside the 14-time Major winner for the first time since their spat at the Players Championship was followed by the Spaniard’s infamous “fried chicken” remark.
The American bogeyed the par-four fifth but then went on the charge, with six birdies in his next seven holes to leave Furyk looking over his shoulder.
“It’s hard,” Woods said when asked how difficult it had been to concentrate following Friday’s two-shot penalty, incurred after his ball was adjudged to have moved as he attempted to remove some loose impediments before taking his third shot at the first hole.
“When situations like that happen, I had to fight, and I fought my tail off today, and I’m very proud of that, and I got myself back in the tournament.
“You know, there were a lot of thoughts going on (Friday) night, but the sun comes up in the east, and we start a new day.”
Garcia’s round picked up towards the end, with three birdies over his closing five holes helping him post a 69 – six under overall and in a five-way tie for 11th.
England’s Luke Donald was alongside the Spaniard after a bogey-free 67, spurred by four birdies on the back nine.
Matt Kuchar looked to have been inspired by Furyk’s heroics on Friday, carding a 10-under-par 61 on Saturday to advance to five under.