As if it hadn’t been a thrilling enough summer in golf (well, at least for the massive fans) — Jim Furyk took it up another notch on Sunday in the final round of the Travelers Championship, posting a record-setting 12-under 58, the lowest round ever in PGA Tour history.
Furyk, who began the day 16 shots behind 54-leader Daniel Berger, teed off early — almost six hours before the last pairing. The 46-year-old veteran (who will perhaps now be dubbed, “Mr. 58) got off to a sizzling start, making six birdies and an eagle to shoot eight-under 27 on the front nine. Forget that magical “59” number, which, mind you, Furyk already achieved at the 2013 BMW Championship at Conway Farms.
He continued where he left off on the back nine, reeling off three more straight birdies on nos. 10, 11 and 12.
“I think late in the front nine I felt good with my short irons,” said Furyk, following his historic round. “I holed a shot on 3 from the fairway. I almost holed it on 7, almost holed it on 9. Late in that front nine I had a special feeling, and I turned at 27.
“You can’t help but think about it, especially on a par-70 golf course. But then to turn around and make the putts at 10, 11, and 12, and already be 11-under par with 6 to play, it
just became a little bit of a mental game.”
After making three straight pars, Furyk drained a 25-footer for birdie on the par-3 16th, and now, it was a question of how long could he go. However, the par-4 17th has been known to lend itself to some disasters coming down the stretch in the past, but it was no problem for Furyk, who made par. Next, he faced the par-4 18th, which is certainly a birdie hole. Despite a good run for birdie, Furyk had to *settle* with a tap-in for par to post the first-ever 58 in PGA Tour history — out of approximately 1.5 million rounds.
“I’m still a little stunned and a little flabbergasted,” said Furyk in his opening comments of his presser. “Usually not short on words, so that probably won’t happen. You know, wouldn’t have been a round that I would have expected coming if you look at — I played pretty well in Canada but really struggled through the week at the PGA (Championship). I think I finished around 70th for the week. I was in that position starting this morning.”
Furyk was basically perfect from tee-to-green, hitting 14 of 14 fairways and 18 of 18 greens and only needing 24 putts en route to a round that will be remembered for many, many years to come — actually, likely forever. I mean, we still talk about Al “Mr. 59″ Geiberger, who was the first to shoot the *previous* “magical” number 59 in 1977.
“There’s a lot of rounds by a lot of great players ahead of me that have never reached 58,” said Furyk. “To hold that record alone right now on the PGA Tour at least, I know a young gentleman just did it on the Web.com, but to hold it here on the PGA Tour is phenomenal. To have a little small place in history is simply a dream.”
That’s right. Incredibly enough, Stephen Jaeger fired a 58 last week in a Web.com Tour event at TPC Stonebrae — an accomplishment that shouldn’t be overlooked and it’ll be one that’ll remain in the history books, as well, but it wasn’t in the bigs. (And you see what Furyk did there by calling him “young gentleman”? Pro move. I didn’t remember his name at first, either.)
Coincidentally, Furyk was the last man on the PGA Tour to break 60. His experience almost three years ago at Conway Farms helped him with the mental aspect of not getting ahead of himself and managing his emotions.
“Well, I had that here-we-go-again turning the front nine,” he said. “I shot 8-under on the front nine there, 8-under today. I remember the mental battle, the grind. Same thing, I kind of got off to a good start on the second side at Conway, as well, and then it was more of a — you know, I’m hitting it well, I’m putting it well.
“It’s just trying to find a way to stay out of your own way really and don’t let any thoughts leak in. I left the first putt a little short at 17 and had to grind over a little left
to righter, but for the most part, it was pretty — I think I hit every fairway and every green today, so it was a better — it was tougher conditions at Conway, but a little smoother round of golf today than there.”
Again, experience is everything and having already shot 59 on Tour before propelled Furyk to think 57 or 58.
“I guess had I never shot 59 before, I probably would have been thinking 59, the barrier,” said Furyk. “But the fact that I did it three years ago, you know, in the back of my mind I’ve got 11-under through 12, I’ve got six holes to play. If I play them under par, I’m going to break another barrier. Yeah, having that experience in the past, and this one mimicked it a lot, it was comforting for me.
“You don’t wake up on Sunday morning with an 8:41 tee time thinking that anything exciting is going to happen. I mean, really on those days the most exciting thing that can happen is the group in front of you plays quick and your flight takes off a little early and you get home is
usually what you’re looking to do. To get out there and make a bunch of birdies and get the juices flowing and feel like I was in the hunt in a golf tournament was kind of cool.”
Similar to Conway, Furyk hit a bit of a lull in the middle of the back nine at TPC River Highlands — I mean, he parred the risk-reward par-4 15th and STILL SHOT 58!!! He was revived after a birdie on 16, though.
“But the putt at 16 was huge, to see that go in and get it to 12-under par, and then it was, again, fighting emotions,” said Furyk. “A lot can go wrong at 17, so getting the ball in the fairway there was key. I hit one in the water early in the week. I didn’t make a good swing off 17 tee. It was a little bit of a guided swing rather than letting it go, but I hit a good second shot, just gassed up a little bit and hit it too hard. It was nice to grind out the little three-footer for par (on 17).”
Still, he was only ONE-UNDER in THE LAST SIX HOLES. We could do the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” game all day long, but let’s just appreciate what a hell of a round of golf that was.
Furyk hadn’t been feeling too great about his swing and actually had his caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan (another legend) take some video on the range and then sent it to his dad for advice. (And I really love what Furyk has to say, especially in the last paragraph.)
“I’ve really been struggling a little bit with my golf swing,” said Furyk. “Playing okay but not hitting the ball the way I expect and wanted to, and for the last couple of weeks, I think playing Baltusrol, being a long golf course, being a really wet golf course, I think put a little pressure on my game and got my swing a little long, trying to hit the ball probably a little farther and not knowing it or not doing it consciously.
“When my swing gets long, my upper body and lower body get out of sync and it makes it hard to hit the ball solid, makes it hard to hit the ball straight. It took me a bunch of rounds of golf to kind of figure it out and to get back in the swing of things, and started to work on it on Friday, played a good round, but kind of lost that feel yesterday and was able to go to the range last night and kind of send some video to my dad, texted back and forth with him, and kept working on some things in my setup that we were working on, and kind of today felt like I wanted to go out there and shorten and tighten up my swing a little bit.
“It’s kind of a reminder no matter how bad you feel with your swing you’re never that far away, or no matter how good you feel you’re probably not that far away from playing poorly, as well. I went out yesterday and really didn’t have command of the golf ball, and turned
around and played pretty much a flawless round of golf today.”
Furyk missed most of the season with an injury to his left wrist and endured surgery in February. He returned in May for his first tournament in over seven months at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he missed the cut. Since then, he’s made 11 starts, with his best finish T2 at the U.S. Open after he went low in the final round with a four-under 66 to surge up the leaderboard. Otherwise, he hasn’t had too many top finishes, perhaps with the exception of the RBC Canadian Open, where he placed 13.
Furyk is currently T7 at the Travelers Championship, but the leaders are only on the front nine. Can you believe he might actually fall outside the top 10 despite a 58??? Well, I guess that’s what happens when you start the day at 70th. Regardless, it really doesn’t matter. He shot 58! Fifth-f*cking-eight!
Now, for the real serious business, some have been speculating on social media that Furyk’s 58 practically makes him a lock as one of Captain Davis Love III’s captain’s picks. Furyk, who is close friends with Love, is already one of Team USA’s vice-captains and he’s currently ranked 22nd in the U.S. points standings. We already know Love *wants* to pick Furyk. Will this be enough?
However, of course, don’t forget all those months he missed because of injury. I’m not sure how I feel about Furyk on another Ryder Cup team (he’s been on nine, which is super impressive) — he’s certainly a team player and a guy I’d want and know would have my back every time. However, it’s hard to overlook his absolute dismal record, but it could be argued that many of those losses were not necessarily “his fault.” In other words, Furyk is like a utility man, who can play with anyone (including the guys no one else wants to play with and/or the nervous newbies). Then, there’s the argument to add new blood on the team. We can ponder this further as the date approaches — Love will make his first three picks following the BMW Championship on September 11.
Here’s the highlight reel of Furyk’s historical 58:
Well done and very well played!