A few words of wisdom for the afternoon leaders from PGA TOUR veteran Jim Furyk: “Definitely take advantage of the par 5s. That’s the one opportunity you have.”
Furyk, who shot 73, teed off at 9:40 a.m. and saw a completely different golf course than he’s seen the past three days.
“It’s drying out and the greens are dying, turning brown and white,” said Furyk. “It’s difficult to get the ball close on the greens. The moisture from Tuesday and Wednesday resulted in the course playing softer on Thursday and Friday. No matter what happens in this golf tournament, they let the greens die on Sunday. The guys are going to have their hands full.”
Somebody will have to go under par to put heat on Westwood, Furyk predicts, adding, “There are a lot of wrecks out there waiting to happen.”
By the time the leaders teed off at 2:40 p.m., 21 golfers had finished their rounds with 11 of those ballooning to 75 or higher and only four shooting below par -- highlighted by James Driscoll’s 2-under 70 in the first group on the course.
Ben Curtis didn’t like his 79, nor did he like the golf course today.
“We were playing a different course today,” Curtis said. “The fairways and tees are pretty much the same, but you have to hit completely different approach shots and putts. The greens are brown. The wind picked up and that didn’t help. I would guess that anybody that can stay in double figures this afternoon has a good chance.”
Woody Austin has seen his scores go up each day, finishing today with a disappointing 76. He called the changes in the course from Thursday “shocking.”
“It was very difficult,” Austin admitted. “And such a drastic change. It’s hard to fathom that the greens got any water. It’s an amazing transformation. Thursday you could hit any shot you wanted and now you can’t after three days. Even yesterday, you could get the ball to do some things on the green. Today, you can’t control the ball on the greens at all.”
A 12-year veteran of THE PLAYERS, Austin remembers similar conditions in March in past years when the weather was different and the grass was in transition.
He applauded those that finished early under par. “Even or 1 under is a great score today,” he said. “If you’re putting good, you can probably shoot under par, but if you’re not putting or hitting the ball, you won’t even come close. It’s going to beat you up.” -- Michael Curet