NORTON — On another day his round might have provoked a sizable gallery, given his sizzling 30 at the turn and an eventual 63 on the board, adorned with eight birdies. But on a steamy Sunday afternoon when warm air and damp grounds made for deep discounts on the scorecard at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Jim Furyk had a following of exactly 19 pedestrians to witness another chapter in his late-summer run.
“Actually, I’m doing pretty good,” said Furyk, whose flawless round, second only to Graham DeLaet’s 62, put him in a tie for ninth place at 12 under par, seven strokes behind leader Sergio Garcia after he started the day tied for 45th. “There’s guys hitting good numbers out there.”
Barring a multiple implosion above him in Monday’s final round it’s unlikely that the 43-year-old Furyk will collect his first triumph since he won the Tour Championship three years ago. But another low number just may be enough to persuade Fred Couples to select him this week as one of the two captain’s picks for the US team for next month’s Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village. “It’s going to be tough for Freddie,” said Furyk, who was 13th on the points list coming in. “I think he’s got me, [Steve Stricker], Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and a lot of other good players from the outside looking in.”
Furyk, who was PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2010, has been a fixture on every American team since 1997, making eight Ryder Cup rosters and seven Presidents Cups.
“I appreciate those teams,” said Furyk, who was 5-0 in the 2011 Presidents Cup. “I like playing on them. But if you focus on it, put too much pressure on yourself, it’s impossible to take it.”
His recent revival has been noteworthy. After missing the cuts at the US and British Opens, Furyk had the lead going into the final round at last month’s PGA Championship before being overtaken by Jason Dufner, who beat him by two strokes. “I don’t feel like I lost the tournament, I felt like I got beat,” said Furyk, who won the US Open a decade ago and endured a more harrowing defeat last year at Olympic when he led the US Open with half a dozen holes to play, bogeyed both the 16th and 18th, and finished tied for fourth.
Last week, Furyk finished in a tie for sixth at the Barclays, and after shooting 70 and 68 in his first two outings here he was en route to his 9:45 tee time when the skies opened. “I was on my way out the door when play was suspended,” he said. “So I had another breakfast and hung out.” Amply fueled and wearing a 5-Hour Energy cap, Furyk went out and scorched the back nine with birdies on four of the first five holes, and almost had seven.
“I left about a 15-footer on 15 right in the jar, about two inches short,” he said. “I hit a beautiful shot on 18 that trickled over the green. I wasn’t able to get it down in two and still shot 30 on the back.”
But there were more birdies to be had on the front and Furyk cashed three of them, one set up with a deft pitch from 58 yards on the par-5 seventh that left him with less than a two-foot putt.
His 63 was two strokes shy of the course record and an indication that he still has gas in the tank during the summer’s dog days. “At this time of year I know guys are tired and maybe losing their patience a little bit,” said Furyk, who has played six of the last seven weeks. “But I take a lot of time off in the fall and into the spring. So about this time of the year I’m always seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, so my patience seems to be all right.”
Given Furyk’s recent form there will be even more in his datebook. He came into the tournament ranked 14th on the FedEx Cup points list and with a top-10 finish here and another solid showing at the BMW Championship, Furyk will be back at the Tour Championship later in the month.
There have been years when he was hankering to put the clubs in the closet. “I couldn’t wait for the season to end,” he said. This is not one of them. An extra breakfast and a 63 have a way of changing a man’s perspective.