Matter of mind over magic for Jim Furyk
Muted performance on Saturday after his 59 was a case of dwelling on achievement
Jim Furyk signs autographs after shooting a 12 under round of 59 during the second round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club on Friday. Photograph: Getty Images
In trying to make sense of how every break seemed to go his way during the round, Furyk said: “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 alw’ays scratch my head and try to figure out how you get to 59.”
Furyk’s two-under-par 69 at Conway Farms Golf Club on Saturday, which left him at 13-under 200, one stroke ahead of Steve Stricker, was a case of mind over magic.
The moment he stopped to consider how he had shot a sub-60 score, he doomed himself to not coming close to repeating it.
Rob Polishook, a mental coach who does not work with Furyk, said a common trap golfers fell into after a career-low score was thinking: “Great round. How did I do that?”
“They immediately think about what they did to make the score, and just this process alone takes them out of the present moment and into the past,” said Polishook, the founder and director of Inside the Zone Sports Performance Group.
“On the flip side, by scoring low, they now have a set of expectations and thoughts on the outcome, again taking them out of the moment and into the future. Both are recipes for failure.”
During yesterday’s final round of the BMW Championship, the third leg of the FedEx Cup play-offs, it will be Matt Kuchar’s challenge not to look back or ahead.
Kuchar, fourth in the play-off standings at the week’s start, followed the pixie-dust path forged by Brandt Snedeker (a 63 in the first round) and Furyk with a bogey-free 61 on Saturday to move to five-under for the tournament and into a tie for 16th.
Kuchar birdied the first two holes, causing a few in his gallery to start chanting, “Fifty-eight today.”
A sub-60 score crossed his mind when he made the turn in 30 strokes, and again when he went for the green in two on the par-five 18th.
“I got off to a good start and then had a thought on the last hole of, Gosh, if I hole this out from the fairway, it’s a 59,” Kuchar said.
His second shot came to rest 26 feet from the pin and he two-putted for the last of his 10 birdies.
As Kuchar knows only too well, the hard part comes next. He carded a 63 in the second round of the Sony Open and followed it with a 70. He opened with a 64 at the Northern Trust Open and shot a 73 in the next round.