Jim Furyk is in position to make another run at his first Colonial title. (How/Getty Images)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Jim Furyk hit just four of 14 fairways in Thursday's opening round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Considering that accuracy fuels his game -- he ranks seventh in driving accuracy on the PGA TOUR this year -- it was a rare momentarily lapse off the tees.
And yet he still managed a sub-par round, shooting a 1-under 69.
On Friday, Furyk delivered his usual tricks. He hit 12 of 14 fairways, as well as 16 of 18 greens, en route to a 4-under 66 that leaves him at 5 under for the tournament and in good position to contend on the weekend.
"I just wasn't getting the ball in the fairway yesterday," Furyk said. "I put the ball in play today. And really felt good with the putter again. It takes a lot of pressure off your iron game."
Furyk rolled in five putts from outside 10 feet on Friday, including a 37-footer at the par-4 14th.
But his biggest putt may have been at the par-4 fifth, traditionally the hardest hole at Colonial. His approach landed inside 12 feet, and he drained the putt.
"That's stealing one, fo sure," Furyk said. "... Leaving there with a par feels good, so a birdie is a real big deal."
Furyk counts Colonial as one of his favorite courses, as it caters to shot-makers. Making his 18th appearance, Furyk has seven top-10 finishes, including a fourth place last year.
"It's changed over the years," Furyk said of Colonial. "It's a lot greener now. They irrigate it a lot more. The scores are a touch lower, but it's still a great golf course.
"You have to work the ball out here, and it's tough to get the ball in the fairways. It's not overly long but it's still got a little teeth to it."
By PGATOUR.COM staff
A two-shot leader entering the third round, Billy Horschel did nothing to hurt his chances at winning the Valero Texas Open on Saturday.
Horschel, in search of his first win on TOUR, carded five birdies against three bogeys Saturday in a 2-under 70 that leaves him two clear of Jim Furyk and Charley Hoffman at TPC San Antonio. Horschel opened the event with a pair of 68s.
Furyk started the day three back and made up quick ground with birdies on his first two holes. He played the next 15 at even par but added another birdie on the 18th to secure a spot in Sunday’s final group.
Hoffman also started quickly, with three birdies on his first eight holes to briefly take the lead from Horschel. He played the final 10 holes in 1-over after missing a 7-foot birdie putt on the closing hole.
Lurking on the leaderboard will be Rory McIlroy, Bob Estes and Ryan Palmer, who each completed 54 holes at 6 under. Padraig Harrington, Martin Laird, Jeff Overton, K.J. Choi and Daniel Summerhays are another shot back at 5 under.
Horschel earned a career-best T2 finish last week at the Shell Houston Open where he carded weekend scores of 67-66 to move up the leaderboard. He’s got a grand opportunity to 1-up that showing on Sunday.
Driven to succeed: Jim Furyk is testing out a double-driver strategy this week in San Antonio. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO -- People can talk about the last-minute preparation Rory McIlroy is making for the Masters by coming this week to the Valero Texas Open, but McIlroy has nothing on Jim Furyk.
At least McIlroy got to play a full practice round and saw his pro-am tour go deep into the back nine before rained washed it out as he is making his first trip to San Antonio. Furyk is here for the first time, too, but he arrived the night before the pro-am and he got in four holes before lightning halted play.
So his preparation for the event almost turned into a video game.
“I tried to go online (to) get an idea where guys were hitting balls off the tee,” Furyk said.
Furyk should keep his laptop handy. He followed Thursday’s score of 69 with a 2-under 70 Friday, and is currently a shot out of the lead with his 5-under total at TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks Course.
To add to the complications of playing well enough to make the cut (this will be his eighth-straight cut made), Furyk has two drivers in his bag this week and is hopeful it works out well enough that he can take the long sticks to Augusta. He’s finding out his less-lofted driver (at 9.5 degrees) appears to be set up with a tendency to work left.
“I wanted to give it a practice run,” he said. “I’m having a hard time. I may have to switch shafts out.”
Furyk said it may take until Wednesday at Augusta before he gets it ironed out, so it sounds like he’s committed to the two-driver approach even if it means visiting the equipment truck on Monday.
“(I’ll) make a couple of adjustments and try to play through it,” he said.
Furyk remains his green-hitting self this week (almost 70 percent, right at the top 10 through two rounds) and looks to be in the top 50 in fairways hit despite alternating between drivers with one degree of difference between them.
And his two official drives have him at a 287-yard average. He sounds like that’s the component that will go a long way to determining his success at Augusta next week after a week where he may not make many birdies in San Antonio.
“There aren’t many birdies at Augusta anymore either,” Furyk said. “(If) they lengthen it out another 400 yards, there would be no birdies at Augusta.”
Ben Kohles hit 43 of 52 fairways to lead the field in driving accuracy at the Tampa Bay Championship.
||Winner: Kevin Streelman
|Driving Distance||270.8 (48th)||Robert Garrigus (301.4 yards)||T56|
|Driving Accuracy||69.23% (T11)||Ben Kohles (82.69%)||T7
|Strokes Gained-Putting||1.819 (3rd)||Cameron Tringale (2.098)
|Greens in Regulation||68.06% (T11)||E. Compton, J.J. Henry (73.61%)||T30/T51|
|Proximity to Hole||35' 5" (39th)
||Jim Furyk (28' 9")||T7|
|Scrambling||65.22% (T28)||Tag Ridings (82.76%)||T17
WEEKLY PERFORMANCE STATS ARCHIVE
Week 2: Sony Open in Hawaii
Week 4: Farmers Insurance Open
Week 5: Waste Management Phoenix Open
Week 7: Northern Trust Open
Week 8: The Honda Classic
Week 9: WGC Cadillac & Puerto Rico Open
Jim Furyk lost in a playoff last year at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course. (Lyons/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Four days trying to solve the confounding Copperhead layout seemed the less demanding of two options bidding for Jim Furyk’s time this week.
He could have been back home, handling details for Monday’s event that benefits the charitable foundation that bears his name along with wife Tabitha.
“I really avoided all the work this week, being here,” Furyk quipped after Saturday’s 4-under 67 left him one shot behind co-leaders Kevin Streelman, Justin Leonard and George Coetzee at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by Everbank.
Of course, Furyk wouldn’t miss being at Innisbrook this week. The Copperhead Couse is one of his favorite courses on the PGA TOUR, and the layout seems to like him too – a victory three years ago and a playoff loss last year.
Now he’s potentially 18 holes from putting his hands on the trophy again.
“I made a couple of mistakes here and there, but I really feel like my game has gotten stronger every day,” said Furyk, who carded 72-69 in his first two rounds.
“I feel more confident with the putter in my hand. I’m seeing a couple more putts go in, and I think that’s giving me confidence as well. That’s why my scores are getting better.”
A bogey at the tough No. 16 slowed his momentum, but he flirted with eagle at No.18 with a splendid 7-iron that passed within a few inches of the cup before stopping three feet away. The ensuing birdie got him to 5-under for the week.
Furyk does have one fundraiser responsibility this week – arranging flights to transport a dozen or so TOUR pros to Ponte Vedra Beach after Sunday’s round. It isn’t all that simple, considering good friend Justin Leonard will play in the final group.
“I’m happy to see him playing well,” Furyk said. “He’s killing my [schedule] tomorrow, but other than that it’s good. I’m just going to have to back my late flight up.”
Jim Furyk won the Tampa Bay Championship in 2010 and lost in a playoff last year. (Little/Getty Images)
By Rob Bolton, Fantasy Insider
If your one-and-done league played out like a recreational bowling schedule, then the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank would serve as a position week.
Position weeks help create churn over the course of a season. Its primary objective is to give the bottom-feeders an opportunity to gain full points on the top teams. Conversely, the leaders can double up on their advantages, but they have more to lose than the challengers figure to gain. It's a gut check.
It is with that spirit that I relay that there are approximately zero no-brainer options for one-and-doners at Copperhead. Sure, there's chalk just like any other week, but it's spread around rather equitably. Futhermore, I could recommend multiple and arguably better options for everyone that cracked my Power Rankings.
Thirteen of the top 16 all-time money leaders of the tournament are scheduled to play. Nos. 1-6, 8 and 9 top the list of those in the field and all are former winners, but four of the top five hoisted the hardware in the days when Copperhead hosted in the fall before the event was moved to March to coincide with the advent of the FedExCup. Of that pool or early winners, only two-time champ Retief Goosen (2003, 2009) populated the Power Rankings, sneaking in at 13th. John Senden ranks 10th all-time in earnings, highest among non-winners, but he's worthy of a spot in two-man one-and-done formats only.
My play is going to be Jim Furyk (No. 6 in my Power Rankings). While he's a fan of the layout, his results have proved it. After a T52 in 2009, he won in 2010 (the same season he was crowned FedExCup champion). Since the title, he's posted a T13 in 2011 and lost in the playoff last year. He's fourth in all-time earnings at the event.
Indeed, when a blow to the core is anticipated, stick with a guy that has taken his share and risen right back up.
Last week: Graeme McDowell (WGC-Cadillac); T3; $417,500
Last week: Kevin Stadler (Puerto Rico); T72; $6,825
Overall record: 9-for-11
Top 5s: 4
Top 10s: 6
Top 25s: 8
Missed cuts: 2