Furyk's 59 was hardly a breeze

Historic round came under difficult conditions on windy day at Conway Farms

Jim Furyk discusses his historic round of 59 Friday at the BMW Championship.

With a 59 in Jim Furyk's sights Friday, playing partner Gary Woodland became like a shortstop who refrains from asking the ace pitcher, "So, how 'bout this perfect game?"

"I didn't want to bother him," Woodland said. "But he wanted to talk."

So as they strolled down the ninth fairway at Conway Farms, their final hole, Woodland and Furyk talked football. Furyk is from the Pittsburgh area, and the Steelers couldn't even beat the Titans at home Sunday.

"I was giving him a hard time about Pittsburgh," Woodland said. "Now he can give me a hard time about golf."

On this day, Furyk owned golf. He dominated a sport that's so infuriating, it prompts grown men to throw their clubs into bodies of water.

"He had complete control of his golf ball," Woodland marveled. "He rolled the ball phenomenally. It was unbelievable to watch."

Furyk hit all 14 fairways and missed only one green in regulation. He took 23 putts, three on the fifth hole for his lone bogey. He made 11 birdies and one eagle — adding up to a 12-under 59 in the second round of the BMW Championship.

"A very cool card," Furyk said.

He became the sixth man to hit that magic number in PGA Tour history — and the first to do it despite making a bogey.

When a reporter informed Zach Johnson that Furyk was 11 under par through 16 holes, Johnson replied: "For the day? Seriously? That is ridiculous."

Especially ridiculous considering what Conway Farms did to Furyk's top-notch competitors. Just look at the 2013 major winners: Adam Scott shot a 73. Justin Rose came home in 71. Phil Mickelson carded a 74. Jason Dufner limped home in 73 — with a back-nine 40.

Even without his two-shot penalty, Tiger Woods did not break 70.

"It's one thing to throw a perfect game against a team not playing well," said Jeff Mory, the director of golf at Conway Farms. "He did something epic."

And he did it on a cool, breezy day, making for a longer course and extra-fast greens.

"If it was 75 (degrees) and soft, I thought there would be some low scores," Luke Donald said. "But it's a stiff breeze and it's from a direction that is pretty tricky."

Donald is one of the world's best putters and has played Conway Farms "a couple hundred" times, by his estimate.

"I find these greens tough to read," he said. "But he is obviously finding them pretty easy."

After Furyk dropped the final putt from 3 feet, 3 inches, he hugged caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan and got a handshake from Terry Lavin, who told him, "We love you at Olympia."

After Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, the club made him an honorary member.

"He's one of the few (honorary members) who actually showed up after that," said Lavin, who was grounds chairman for the '03 Open. "He'd bring his dad with him and stay at the club overnight.

"One time he played at Ridgemoor out by O'Hare. Ben Hogan has the course record, and Furyk was going to break it. On the 16th hole, he picked up a 3-footer and said, 'No one should break Mr. Hogan's record.' He's a class act and he understands his place in the pantheon."

Furyk, who joins Al Geiberger, Chip Beck, David Duval, Paul Goydos and Stuart Appleby in the 59 club, said it will take "weeks and even months" to understand the weight of this accomplishment.

He said Conway Farms "will always have a special place in my heart" and thanked Woodland for distracting him with the football talk.

"I actually quit thinking about trying to shoot 59 there for a few minutes," he said, "which was a good thing."

Before the BMW Championship, the course record was 64, shot by Michigan State's Ryan Brehm in the 2006 Big Ten Championships.

Now it's 59.

"I think this will last," Mory said.

tgreenstein@tribune.com

Twitter @TeddyGreenstein

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