LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Jim Furyk put his 59 behind him with a round that was 10 shots higher in the BMW Championship on Saturday. All that mattered was having a chance to win, which made the day a success.
Furyk recovered from a sluggish start with three birdies in a five-hole stretch around the turn. A three-putt bogey from 30 feet on the par-5 18th forced him to settle for a 2-under 69 and a one-shot lead over Steve Stricker.
"The goal was to go out and shoot a good number today, get myself in position to win this golf tournament," Furyk said. "It could have been better out there. ... Obviously, I dropped that shot at 18, which I'm disappointed. It was probably one of the easier holes of the day. But I've got myself in good position, so rather than harp on the last hole, I'd probably tend to want to think about tomorrow and what I have to do to try to win a golf tournament."
It was a far different finish from Friday, when Furyk hit a wedge to 3 feet for birdie on his final hole (No. 9) for a 12-under 59, becoming only the sixth player in PGA Tour history to hit golf's magic number.
No one expected another round like that from him -- though Matt Kuchar had a 61 in the morning when conditions were calm -- with firm fairways, fast greens and increasing wind. Three other players who had 59 in an earlier round followed with anything better than 68, but Furyk did enough to give himself another chance to end three years without a victory.
But his work is far from over.
He was at 13-under 200 and will be paired in the final group with longtime friend Stricker, who holed out for eagle from the 15th fairway and had a 64.
Brandt Snedeker, tied with Furyk to start the third round, got up-and-down from behind the 18th green for birdie to get back to even-par 71 for the day and remain in the hunt just two shots behind.
And very much in the picture was Tiger Woods, who made it through the day without any drama.
Woods still objected to the two-shot penalty he was given after his second round for his ball moving ever so slightly as he tried to remove a small stick next to it. And he played Saturday before a massive crowd with Sergio Garcia, their first time together since Garcia ended some verbal sparring by jokingly saying he would have Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open and serve him fried chicken.
In the suburbs north of Chicago, there was hardly any heckling beyond what is heard at a normal golf tournament in America.
Woods ran off six birdies in seven holes and at one point got within two shots of the lead until his momentum was stalled with a par on the par-5 14th and a bogey on the 15th hole after driving his first shot into the water. He still had a 66 and was only four shots behind.
"I had a nice little run to at least get myself in there where I have a chance tomorrow," Woods said.
Of the five previous 59s on the PGA Tour, only two failed to win the tournament -- Chip Beck in the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational and Paul Goydos at the 2010 John Deere Classic. Beck had his 13-under 59 in the third round of a 90-hole tournament and tied for third. Goydos had his 12-under 59 in the opening round and was runner-up.
Al Geiberger shot 13-under 59 in the second round of the 1977 Memphis Classic and went on to win. David Duval (13-under 59 at the 1999 Bob Hope Classic) and Stuart Appleby (11-under 59 at the 2010 Greenbrier Classic) shot their rounds on Sunday to win.
Furyk and Snedeker made quick retreats in the early going before Furyk got back on track. He built a two-shot lead with a short birdie on the 15th hole, but he drove into the rough on the 18th, laid up in the rough and ran his 30-foot birdie putt some 5 feet by the hole. He missed the par putt and watched his lead shrink to one.
Furyk has struggled closing out tournaments over the last few years. He had a one-shot lead in the PGA Championship, losing to Jason Dufner last month at Oak Hill. A year ago, he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead in three tournaments and failed to win.
"It's been three years. No one has to remind me of the Tour Championship in 10, and as I've had some of the close calls last year, I definitely put some more pressure on myself," he said. "That will be part of the mental game and the mental aspect of it tomorrow, to go out there and stay in the moment and just play golf and not really worry about it. I'll play my best if I'm focused on the task at hand, not on the results."