'Fluff' Cowan enjoys front-row seat for Furyk's 'incredible' day

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Mike 'Fluff' Cowan and Jim Furyk's similar demeanors have meshed for more than 15 years.
September 13, 2013
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Mike "Fluff" Cowan had tried to beat a hasty retreat but he was waylaid by a couple of reporters on the bridge that provides an escape route from the massive crowds around the ninth and 18th greens at Conway Farms.

About 30 yards away and down more than a dozen steps, his boss, Jim Furyk, was positively surrounded by TV cameras, with microphones and tape recorders thrust toward his face, as he discussed the 59 he had just shot during the second round of the BMW Championship.

While everyone searched for the perfect sound bite from Furyk, now also tied for the lead with Brandt Snedeker, Cowan didn't take long to put the day in perspective.

"We were just playing golf and it turned into a 59," he said simply.

The two have been a team for more than 15 years and there have been plenty of exciting moments. Cowan was on the bag when Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open. He toted Furyk's clubs in six Presidents Cups and seven Ryder Cups. Cowan was a big part of Furyk's 2010 FedExCup win, as well.

Friday, though, was different as Furyk equaled the lowest score in PGA TOUR history -- with a bogey, no less.

"It's really kind of difficult to do to tell you the truth, but all I can say is it was a very special round of golf, very special," Cowan said. "I mean, the lowest one I've ever caddied for. Incredible."

Furyk went about his business Friday with amazing precision, hitting every fairway and all but one green in regulation. He only needed 23 putts in making 11 birdies -- and holed a 9-iron for the eagle at the 15th hole that Cowan, the Grateful Dead aficionado, called "pretty freaking special."

The only round Cowan could think of that might have compared was the 64 his former boss, Peter Jacobsen, shot in the final round of the 1988 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. That started with seven straight 3s -- and Jacobsen missed a 12-footer at No. 8 to extend the streak.

"I don't know," Cowan said. "That was pretty efficient."

And then he paused.

"But this is 59," Cowan added. "As low as it's gotten, at least by TOUR standards."

When someone suggested that Furyk easily could gone one lower, Cowan stopped again.

"59 will do," he said.

Cowan said the iconic 59, shot only five times previously, didn't enter his mind until Furyk made a 4-footer at the fourth hole. It was his third straight birdie after turning in 28 and brought Furyk to 11 under for the day.

"This is going to sound kind of drab, but I try not to really think about it a whole lot," said the caddie with the distinctive white moustache. "When he made the birdie putt on 4 is when I thought to myself, there's something happening here.

"I realized we still had five more holes to play, and anything can happen, but when he made the birdie putt at 4 was my time."

Furyk, who had started the day nine strokes off the pace, would three-putt the next hole for his only bogey but he didn't let the momentum slip away. He made an 11-footer for birdie at the seventh hole to get back in reach of the magic number with a par 5 and a par 4 to go.

"At that point I'm thinking, as much as 59 I'm thinking we're crawling our way right into this golf tournament, not that we hadn't a little earlier than that," Cowan said.

Furyk said Cowan is "always there for me." The caddie is nursing an ailing shoulder right now, and "I can tell it's getting to him to pick up the bag, but he's out there gutting it out," his boss said. And those clubs had to feel a little lighter late Friday afternoon.

The two don't need a lot of words between them, no high fives or hoorahs. Just a quiet hug after that final putt crept into the hole and Furyk raised his fist in celebration to the crowd.

"You've got to picture throwing a no-hitter; no one walks over there and tells him good luck or whatever, just kind of leave him alone, and I think Fluff's style is more when things are going good, just being himself, doing the same thing we always do, going through the same routine, and that's kind of what I try to think of when I'm playing," Furyk said.

"We just went through our normal procession (on the final approach). So he didn't like give me the oh, let's knock this one in or knock this stiff or really any pep talk. That's not really my style. I'm not a rah rah, cheer me up, pump me up type of person. I want him to be the same way, and that's his normal style anyway."

So Saturday morning will be just like any other third round when Furyk tees off with Brandt Snedeker in the day's final group at 1:50 p.m. ET.

"Hit if off the first tee and chase it," Cowan said. "Just go play golf. Go do the best you can do tomorrow."

And add them up again at the end.