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Furyk Continues Fine Play in Bridgestone Invitational
Jim Furyk followed up his opening 7-under 63 with a 66 to maintain his two-stroke lead through 36 holes of the WGC- Bridgestone Invitational. The $8.5 million event began Thursday at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
The 42-year-old Pennsylvanian posted five birdies and a bogey to reach 11-under 129, two shots ahead of Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello (65) and three in front of South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, who also shot 65.
"Obviously happy to shoot 66 and following it up with 63," said Furyk. "At times you go out there and fire a low score - one day it's hard to follow it up, the next and keep that momentum going. But the fact that I did it in the afternoon yesterday, it's kind of quick.
"You get a quick dinner, to sleep, right back out on the golf course in the morning. So I was able to kind of keep that momentum, knocked in a couple good putts today and made some great saves actually, some good par saves to keep the round going." (See below for the transcript of his full Friday interview.)
Cabrera-Bello, who's won twice on the European Tour - including the 2012 Dubai Desert Classic, is also pleased with his play so far. "I did feel I did pretty much everything really good," said the 28-year-old. "I think there might be a few drives missed, but hey, I know they were not big misses. I was always able to play to the greens, so it's not something I'm really worried about, and the rest went really good.
"I mean, my iron play, my scrambling play, and on the greens I felt really confident. It really went I'm not going to say easy, but easy is not the word, it just went smooth the entire round. No, I started off good, played consistent through the middle holes, and then had a really good finish, so it was really nice out there today."
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion and runner-up in this year's Masters to Bubba Watson, has been able to scramble well in the World Golf Championship tournament. "I missed a few shots, but made good up and downs on a few holes," he said. "I played really well. I drove it well and made nice putts. I still struggled on a few lines, to get the lines and speeds right. I think speeds on these greens are crucial. You can get really fast putts, and I think once you get uphill putts you have to be careful not to hit it by. But I'm very happy on the two rounds."
Alone in fourth at 133 after a 66 is Jason Dufner, while in fifth at 134 is South Korean K.T. Kim, who's posted a pair of 67s. David Toms (67) and No. 1-ranked Luke Donald (69) share sixth at 135. Another stroke back at 136 are Lee Slattery (71), Australia's John Senden (70) and Americans Steve Stricker (68) and reigning PGA champion Keegan Bradley (69).
Slattery was content with his first 13 holes as he went 2-under par, but the Englishman, who turned 34 Friday, wasn't pleased with the three bogeys in his final four holes. "It was just a disappointing end, really, just dropped three shots late," he said. "It's all about if you miss fairways out there, it's all about getting a good lie, and unfortunately I got two shockers out there which I really couldn't do much with, led to bogeys, and then 17 I hit a wedge just over the pin, and it landed on the green, just jumped over into the second cut and just didn't hit a great chip and missed the putt. Apart from that, it was pretty good. I hit some good shots."
After opening with a 70, Northern ireland's Rory McIlroy posted a 67 to rise into a share of 12th at 137 with fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell (67), England's Simon Dyson (71), Aussie Geoff Ogilvy (70), Sweden's Carl Petterssen (70) and American Dustin Johnson (68).
Starting on the 10th hole, McIlroy was on a roll early with four birdies and a bogey to make the turn in 4-under 32. He doubled the first (his 10th hole) but managed two more birdies to salvage an even-par 35 on his inward half. "I played the last 14 holes yesterday in 3 under, so that was good, and played solid today," said the 23-year-old. "I doubled the first, but apart from that, it was pretty good."
Current FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas (71) and Korean Sang-Moon Bae (66) are tied for 18th at 138, while there's another big group of players at 139, including Watson, who followed up a promising 4-under 66 with a 73, Sergio Garcia (72) and last week's winner in the Canadian Open, Scott Piercy (70).
Defending champion Adam Scott has put together rounds of 71 and 70 and is 12 shots behind Furyk. He's also one stroke behind Phil Mickelson, who followed up his opening 71 with a 69 to get to even-par.
Tiger Woods went in the opposite direction. The No. 2-ranked player in the world, who's already won three times this season, shot a 70 Thursday but went 2-over in the second round.
Woods, a seven-time winner at Firestone, continued to struggle on the greens. He needed 33 putts in the first round and 29 more Friday. "I had my lines good, but it's just setting my path out," said Woods, who had two birdies and four bogeys and is now tied for 44th in the no-cut tournament.
"I was trying to marry the two," he added. "I was trying to figure it out last night on the putting green and couldn't get comfortable enough on the golf course and finally felt it, and then, boom, made a putt.
The biggest swing in the second round came from Rickie Fowler, who started promisingly with a 70 but ballooned to an 80. The 23-year-old posted two birdies, seven bogeys, a triple on the par-5 second, and double on the par-4 sixth to fall into a tie for 73rd.
Another notable score was the second straight 73 from reigning British Open champion Ernie Els.
Thongchai Jaidee withdrew prior to the second round after stepping into a hole Thursday and spraining his ankle. The native of Thailand received last-place money of $40,000.
For all the scores, visit http://www.worldgolfchampionships.com/leaderboards/current/r476/index.html.
After signing his scorecard, Furyk met with reporters to talk about his performance so far at Firestone.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Jim Furyk to the interview room. You followed up your 63 with a 66 today, which I believe is your lowest 36 hole total on the PGA Tour in your career, so obviously a great start with a lot on the line. Can you talk about how things are going?
JIM FURYK: Well, yeah, I felt obviously it was nice to get off to a great start yesterday shooting 63, and then maybe even nice to have kind of that happen in the afternoon where I could turn around and get right back out on the golf course this morning again. Just probably a little easier to keep the momentum going that way than having an early time on Thursday morning, having a good round and having to sit on it until Friday afternoon. I thought it was key to get off to a nice start and see some putts go in. Made a good birdie putt at 2 and saw some birdies go in on the front nine, good putt at 9, and kind of off to the races.
The back nine was a little bit more making some good saves. I think they said I had four sand saves on the back nine and two good putts for par on 10 and 14 and kind of kept that going and slipped a couple birdies in there along the way, as well. Good round, and it'll be nice to relax a little bit this afternoon and maybe check out the weather forecast later on and kind of check out the weekend. I think the wind is supposed to pick up a little bit. If it gets breezy, the wind picks up, and the greens get faster, this place will show a little bit more teeth than we've seen so far.
Q. Could you hit a few highlights of your round, club selection and shots?
JIM FURYK: Birdies? At No. 2, I hit a driver and a 3 wood just over the green, hit a delicate pitch to about five, six feet past the hole and made it for birdie. No.6, I hit a good drive and I believe I hit a 9 iron to about 10 feet left of the hole, and it was a pretty good left to right curler, knocked that one in. Bogeyed 8, pulled a drive and hit a tree and it was kind of a mess. I actually had to hit a 3 wood up there next to the green and hit a good pitch shot up there next to the hole and actually missed it on the way back. The putt lacked speed. Making birdie at 9 was like stealing one at times. I hit a good drive over the hill today, and I think an 8 iron past the pin and knocked in about a 20 footer on the way back.
Great par save at 10, where I drove it in the right fairway bunker, went to the right greenside bunker, hit a really good bunker shot out to about six or seven feet and had a putt that was really breaking hard left to right downhill and made that for par. Birdie at 12 was a nice 7 iron, I believe, in the middle of the green 12 feet behind the pin. And birdied 13, a driver and a 7 iron, again, about maybe 15 feet behind the pin, made that. Good par save at 14, made about a 10 footer for par. I would say somewhat routine on the way in. Good bunker shot at 15 to about a foot and hit an awful wedge into 18 but good bunker shot to about a foot and a half.
Q. Did you go long on 18?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I drove it all the way down there. I had something like 94 yards to the pin, something crazy. I was hitting 60 degree wedge in. I was between my sand wedge and my 60 degree wedge, and I basically bladed my 60 degree wedge over the green on that shot.
Q. Was that pure shot? Have you ever had that debate before, a 60-degree wedge versus a sand wedge on 18?
JIM FURYK: For my third shot quite a few times, yes. (Laughter.)
Q. Just wondering, many times we talk to guys who have shot a low round and then it does get to be a little bit of a struggle to come back with another one, and I'm wondering your mindset coming out today and you were able to stay, I guess, focused to put another good round up there.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I think the mindset really was kind of forget about what happened on Thursday and just try to go out there and score and shoot a good number and put myself in a good position for the weekend. I really tried to forget about what I had shot and where I was at and felt like if I could go shoot under par on both 9s and play a good round, I'd put myself in great position for the weekend. Just tried to stay aggressive and pick and choose spots. The golf course, the breeze has kind of been blowing down the hill, so those holes like 8 and 9, 18, holes that sometimes can play quite long, are playing much shorter than usual. If you can get the ball in play, we've had some short irons in our hands into holes that sometimes we usually don't. Point in case would be 18. Just trying to pick and choose spots where I can be aggressive, and I've played this golf course so many times and for so many years, I feel pretty comfortable out here and know when center of the green is a good idea and when I can take a shot at the pin and try to get one in there a little closer.
Q. Have you made any adjustments on putting this year compared with last year?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, I putted horrible last year. I'll be the first one to admit it. I made those adjustments toward the end of last year after I - after we got to our playoff season and I went and played McGladrey with a belly putter and decided that I was going to put that down, I think, after the two events in China. I kind of committed myself back to the short putter and started working on something the week before the Presidents Cup last year and putted lights out there. It was probably - in my career that's probably my best putting event of my career was the Presidents Cup last year. I've been working on pretty much the same thing since November 1 of last year and really working on - I really haven't been on the putting green nearly as much as I have been in the past, but I think I've been very efficient and used my time very wisely when I'm there and gotten a lot out of my practice. I've been much more comfortable on fast greens this year. I don't know if I've ever played greens faster than the Presidents Cup last year. They were scary at times.
But we just went through a stretch like at Greenbrier and the British Open where the greens were much slower than what we had seen, say, at Memorial, the U.S. Open and then the AT&T. We had extremely quick greens. And then we got to Greenbrier, and for one reason or another those were quite a bit slower. The British Open is always a lot slower because of the windy conditions. And obviously, at Hamilton you can't make those too quick because the greens are so severe. They got a little quicker. But I'm more comfortable on fast greens like we're seeing this week. My eye and the way I read putts, I kind of read things to really break and feed into a hole, and it just doesn't happen as much on slow greens. You have to take some break out, and I just don't see that as well.
Q. On 10, as an example there?
JIM FURYK: Right. I don't adjust well to it. I haven't done a good job. Even at home - I'm trying to think why at home I putt fine. The greens are 10, 10 and a half, they're not that quick. But I think Bermuda has enough grain and it's working its way down the hill and you see more break and you can feed balls in a little bit more.
Q. And because the score doesn't count?
JIM FURYK: Could be.
Q. You mentioned about having played here so much. I'm thinking back to 2001, when you had the great playoff. You've played here a lot, you've had -
JIM FURYK: I didn't think it was that great.
Q. Well, okay, if you're outcome based, you're correct, but for a fan and for those of us who write about it, it was a great story. Do you have just generally good feelings about this course, the experience this year, the way the fans interact with you here? Does that factor in at all?
JIM FURYK: You definitely get a feeling when you come to the Akron area that this event is a very big deal here. The fans are very supportive. There's always big crowds. It's fun to see. I think we as a Tour always do well in smaller cities and big towns such as this area. I think you always feel like a big show here, if that makes sense. You go to LA, and yeah, you get some support, but we're not the Lakers. It's nice to be in an area where we get a lot of support.
I grew up on old style golf courses, tree lined, tight fairways, severe greens sloping back to front. I am comfortable on this style of golf course, and I've liked it here since the first year I've played, and I've had a lot of success. I've had years where I haven't played that well. It's a tough golf course, so your game has to be in good shape. But any time you go to a place where you like the golf course and you've played well in the past, you've already kind of got over one hump. There's places that - major championship venues or places that you play that I don't particularly care for the golf course or think it suits my game very well. That's a mental roadblock before the week even starts. It's much tougher to get over that hurdle and much easier when you like a golf course. It's easier - it's less difficult to play well there.
Q. You're one of the few guys that have played Kiawah in proper competition. I just wanted to see if you had any recollections from '03.
JIM FURYK: Yeah, it's - I played in '03 with Justin in the World Cup. If I was going to stereotype a Pete Dye design, that would fall right down the line with Whistling Straits, with TPC at Sawgrass, with - it's a bigger, more vast golf course than maybe Sawgrass, but reminds me a little bit of Whistling Straits. You know, it is very much Pete Dye. It'll be - for me there's a lot going on, I think, to the eye, a lot of eye candy, a lot of times your attention is drawn away from the task at hand, often to bad regions. So for me it'll be getting out there and getting comfortable with where I need to place the ball and where I need to hit it, which has always been difficult for me on Pete's courses.
Q. Do you have happy memories?
JIM FURYK: We didn't play very well. We finished fifth and I had much higher aspirations at the World Cup than that. It's a beautiful area and beautiful I wish I would have spent more time in Charleston, actually, but I didn't. But Kiawah is very pretty, and I can see why a lot of people not only vacation there but a lot of people have second homes and want to spend as much time there as they can. It's a pretty spot.
Q. In a discussion of power hitters, one time you described yourself as a pea shooter. You're handling this place. What has happened here?
JIM FURYK: I don't understand why this is - why everyone thinks of this as being a power dominated golf course. I've never really thought that. I think if it gets real wet and you get a lot of rain, it'll play quite long and maybe become a little bit more power oriented. But this golf course has always been about keeping the ball in the fairway, and I think thinking your way around the golf course, especially if it plays firm and fast. But I've never really felt that - I've never really stepped up on a tee here and felt like I struggled to compete because of a lack of length at this golf course.
I don't know what it says the distance is on the card. I guess it says 7,400 at par 70. It's just not playing that long to be honest with you. With the fairways firm and fast and a lot of your longer holes, 4 straight back up into the hill, but your 8 and 9s, your 480 and 490s are playing downhill, 18 is 460 playing downhill, they're really - there's not a lot of letup on the golf course, and I think the par 3s are quite difficult. But I still don't think it's a power oriented golf course, especially playing firm and fast. If it rains about three, four inches tonight, that might change my opinion, but not when it's firm and fast.
Q. How much did you have left on 8 after you hit the tree there?
JIM FURYK: Oh, I was - I hit one of those big trees off to the left and the ball kicked down and back, and I had a good lie. I probably had somewhere in the 250 range to the front, and I hit kind of a bad 3 wood just short of the front left bunker there.
Q. It didn't go in the bunker?
JIM FURYK: No, it was caught on the downhill in the rough, so that's why hitting it eight feet was a pretty good shot.
MODERATOR: Jim, thanks for coming in.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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