Jim Furyk has shot 59 in today’s second round of the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, IL, just outside Chicago. Furyk shot golf’s magic number with 1 eagle, 11 birdies, and 1 bogey on his scorecard, becoming the first player ever to shoot the number with a bogey.
Furyk began his round on the 10th hole, and promptly birdied his first three holes, 10, 11, and 12. After a par at 13, he birdied the 14th, his 5th hole of the round. On 15, he holed out from the fairway, 115 yards out, for an eagle. That put Furyk at 6-under for his first 6 holes.
After a par at the 16th, he birdied 17 and 18 to shoot an 8-under 28 on the front nine. The world was, as the media says, on “59 Watch.” After a par on the 1st, Furyk’s 10th, he birdied holes 2, 3, and 4, moving to 11-under for his first 13 holes. Conway Farms is a par-71, meaning Furyk would need to finish at 12-under par to shoot 59. After these first 13 holes, 58 seemed to those watching like a possibility.
Furyk put his ball on the green in regulation on the par-4 5th hole, but three-putted for a bogey 5. The mistake placed Furyk at 10-under thru 14, now needing to birdie 2 of the last 4 holes for 59. Furyk parred 6, but made an 11-foot birdie putt on the 7th. He made a par on the par-5 8th after putting the ball just off the green in two, but failing to get up-and-down for birdie. He went to the par-4 9th needing birdie for a slice of history.
After a 281-yard drive to the right half of the fairway, Furyk faced a 103-yard approach. A player who the media has criticized lately for failing to perform in the clutch silenced his critics, hitting his wedge shot to 3 feet away. He made the putt easily, and joined the most elite club in golf, and one of the most elite in all of sports.
For the fans, this may be the most gratifying of all the 59s we’ve seen. While Furyk lacks the popularity of Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, he is well-liked and well-respected by everyone. The gratification comes after watching a veteran have several heart-breaking moments over the last 16 months or so. It all started at the 2012 US Open at Olympic Club. Furyk led for most of the week, and had the lead on the 16th tee on Sunday, before a horrific hook led to a bogey that would open the door for Webb Simpson to win his first major. Later last summer, he led most of the weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron. Keegan Bradley made a 25-foot bomb on the 18th on Sunday to tie Furyk, but all Furyk needed to do to reach a playoff was make a 5-footer for bogey. The putt lipped out, and Bradley had won by a shot, on the last hole. At the Ryder Cup, Furyk was 1-1 with partner Brandt Snedeker, part of the 10-6 American lead going to Sunday. As it would turn out, one of the pivotal matches in Sunday’s American collapse would be Furyk’s match against Sergio Garcia, in a rematch of a 1999 singles match. Furyk led 1 up with 2 holes left, but lost 17 and 18 to lose the match 1 up to Garcia. Like he had in Akron, Furyk missed a 5-footer which would have halved the match. The image of Furyk’s hands on his knees in disbelief may be the definitive image of the US team’s collapse that afternoon at Medinah.
Furyk has struggled at times in 2013, but had a shot at winning the PGA Championship at Oak Hill in August. He was the 54-hole leader, and played fairly solid on Sunday, but was beaten by Jason Dufner’s superb ball striking day. It was yet another heart-breaker for Furyk, although much of the focus was on Dufner overcoming his own heartbreak from the 2011 PGA.
All that Furyk has endured over the last 16 months is what makes this 59 so gratifying.
Furyk’s only major to date was in the 2003 US Open, which was played at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, IL, a suburb south of Chicago. Today’s 59 at Conway Farms was in Lake Forest, IL, a suburb north of Chicago. The greater Chicago area has been good to Furyk. If you’re wondering, Conway Farms to Olympia Fields is about a 70-minute drive.
As for the tournament, Furyk is tied for the lead with Brandt Snedeker, who is the defending FedExCup champion, and has shot 63-68 the last two days in the BMW. Out of the previous five players to shoot 59 (Al Geiberger in 1977, Chip Beck in 1991, David Duval in 1999, and Paul Goydos and Stuart Appleby in 2010), only three actually won the tournament (Geiberger, Duval, and Appleby). Goydos finished 2nd, and Beck finished tied for 3rd. Furyk will try to avoid the fate of Goydos and Beck as he now tries to position himself to win his second FedExCup title, which would match Tiger Woods for the most in the event’s seven-year history.
One Final Thought: Many of the players who shot 59 don’t necessarily have exceptional résumés, other than Duval. Furyk, however, is a US Open champion and may be a Hall-of-Famer. The next best round of the year was in Phoenix in early February, when Phil Mickelson shot 60, after he lipped out for 59 on his final hole, the 9th at TPC Scottsdale. The similarity, besides these being such low rounds, is that these are two veterans with exceptional careers. Although Furyk was passed on for this year’s President’s Cup, the last time either of these players missed a President’s Cup or a Ryder Cup was when Furyk missed the 1996 President’s Cup. To keep the trend going, the third-best round of the year was a 61 by a certain player in Akron. His name: Tiger Woods.
Rounds of 59 in PGA Tour History
(Player, Event, Round, Relation to Par, Finish)
Al Geiberger, 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, second round, 13-under, 1st
Chip Beck, 1991 Las Vegas Invitational, third round, 13-under, T3rd
David Duval, 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, final round, 13-under, 1st
Paul Goydos, 2010 John Deere Classic, first round, 12-under, 2nd
Stuart Appleby, 2010 Greenbrier Classic, first round, 11-under, 1st
Jim Furyk, 2013 BMW Championship, second round, 12-under, TBD