Furyk shoots 58, makes PGA TOUR history
August 07, 2016
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Jim Furyk hit all 18 greens en route to his record-breaking 58 during the final round of the Travelers Championship. (Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
CROMWELL, CT — Jim Furyk awoke Sunday morning unsure how his final round would unfold. Following a third round 72, Furyk retreated to the range at TPC River Highlands to try and come up with a fix to a swing issue that left him frustrated and perplexed.
"I felt like someone else leaped into my body and was making the swing," Furyk said of the round. "I wasn't hitting the ball solid. I think I hit 12 drivers yesterday, hit the ball in the fairway five times. That's just not — that's not my — that's my strength, so to turn that around and make it a weakness is the reason I shot a couple over par."
In search of answers, Furyk made a call to the only swing instructor he's ever worked with: His father, Mike Furyk.
After working on setup with his dad earlier in the week, Furyk believed he pinpointed the issue during the afternoon practice session — a longer-than-usual backswing that came about from playing a long, wet Baltusrol Golf Club layout during the PGA Championship,
The long backswing led to Furyk's upper and lower body getting out of sync, which in turn hurt his consistency. To confirm he was on the right track, Furyk had caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan take video of his swing — something he said he never does — to see if his dad could see improvement.
"I looked at [the video] and was kind of a little shocked at how short it looked," Furyk said. "The club was probably more in that position. I sent it off to my dad and said, does this look too short, and he looked at it and said, not at all. In fact, he said a couple nice things to me, you look like you're really in good balance. It looks like everything is working together a lot better than what you were explaining before. He said, I think it looks great.
"And then just for the hell of it basically, I pulled out a driver and hit one more, and I made a decent swing with it and sent it to him, and because the driver is a little longer it was a touch longer swing, and again, he just sent back, looks great, I'm anxious to see how it works tomorrow."
With the swing thought in the back of his mind, Furyk embarked on one more round at the Travelers Championship, completely unaware that a post-round chat the day prior with his father would lead to PGA TOUR history.
"You don't wake up on Sunday morning with an 8:41 tee time thinking that anything exciting is going to happen," Furyk said. "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."
With only a smattering of fans in the gallery, Furyk opened his round with a tap-in par and rolled in a 16-foot birdie on the second hole to move back to even-par.
That's when the fireworks commenced. Sitting 135 yards from the hole on the third, Furyk rattled the flag and heard it "smack the pin" and disappear. Because the pin was in the shade, Furyk and Cowan had no idea it went in the cup for eagle until a group of fans started cheering.
"There was probably about 10 people up there, five to 10 people," Furyk said. "They kind of hooted and hollered. Fluff didn't realize it went in because we couldn't see it, but the way I heard it and then their reaction, I said, 'I think I just made that.'"
The eagle hole-out started a dizzying front-nine finish for Furyk. He would go on to birdie five of his next six holes to make the turn in 8-under 27, one shy of Corey Pavin's TOUR-record 26 shot at the 2006 U.S. Bank Championship.
It was at that point he started to let the thought of shooting sub-60 creep into his mind. Normally thinking about golf's magic number that far in advance is a recipe for disaster, but Furyk had history and experience on his side.
Three years earlier, Furyk found himself in a similar position, needing two birdies in his last three holes at the 2013 BMW Championship to shoot 59. Furyk accomplished the feat, becoming just the sixth player in TOUR history to record a 59 in competition.
"I had that here-we-go-again turning the front nine," said Furyk. "I shot 8-under on the front nine [at the BMW Championship], 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."
Having sealed the deal once before, Furyk embraced the moment on Sunday and stayed aggressive, stretching the birdie streak to seven straight — from holes 6-12 — with a 4-footer on the 12th hole.
Needing one more birdie to reach the mythical 58, Furyk missed a makable birdie chance on the 14th, and then watched a 7-foot birdie opportunity on the drivable 15th spin out of the cup, leading to a loud groan from the crowd.
With three holes left for history, Furyk hit his tee shot on the par-3 16th on the green, setting up the shot of the tournament — a 23-foot putt that curled into the hole for birdie, igniting a raucous scene and a fist pump from Furyk.
"The putt at 16 was huge," Furyk said, "To see that go in and get it to 12 under par, and then it was, again, fighting emotions."
Jim Furyk comments on his record 58 at Travelers Championship
Emotions weren't the only thing Furyk had to fight down the stretch. There was also the difficult tee shot on 17 and the nerves of potentially having to play the last with a chance to shoot 57 or 58.
Every potential roadblock to the record was met with a tee shot to the fairway — Furyk only missed one during the round — or a green in regulation. In complete control of his game, Furyk would par 17 and make the walk up 18 with a chance to shoot 57.
When the birdie putt slid by the hole, Furyk cleaned up the remaining 2 feet to etch his name in history as the first player to ever shoot 58 in more than 1.5 million competitive rounds played on TOUR.
In the aftermath, Furyk embraced caddie Mike Cowan, let out a yell and then stood beside the green for a second. With his back to the crowd, he took one last look at the 18th hole, soaking in the improbable moment as chants of "58" echoed around him.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Furyk was posted up on the practice range trying to find his swing in between phone calls with his father. Eighteen hole later he found his swing and entered the record books in the process.
"It's kind of a reminder no matter how bad you feel with your swing you're never that far away," Furyk said, "or no matter how good you feel you're probably not that far away from playing poorly, as well,"
The only thing left for Furyk to do after his round was figure out how he was going to respond to the 85-plus messages on his phone, and what he would do with all of the 59 paraphernalia.
As he stood holding his scorecard for photographers, Furyk lamented the potential problem that awaited when he got home.
"I've got like 300 pictures at home with 59 on them," Furyk said with a chuckle. "Gotta throw all that crap away."
Out with the old, in with the new for "Mr. 58." When you're the only member of the recently established 58 club, that's not a bad problem to have.
Highlights from Jim Furyk's historic 58 at Travelers Championship