HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Jim Furyk says he’s done putting pressure on himself.
That’s good, because about two dozen players plan to give the sixth-ranked Furyk all he can handle in the final round of the Verizon Heritage.
Furyk shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to reach 11 under, good for a one-stroke lead over Brian Davis (66) at Harbour Town Golf Links.
At other times in his career, Furyk might’ve obsessed about success and driven himself nuts if he didn’t follow a third-round lead with a victory.
Now, less than a month away from 40 – and with a victory earlier this season at the Transitions Championship that ended a nearly three-year drought – Furyk is content to focus on what’s good about his game instead of what’s not.
“I felt like I had to be perfect and I had to hit every shot just right. I put undue pressure on myself,” Furyk said. “And I’m finding myself now going out there and enjoying that back nine, getting in the heat of battle.”
That was apparent Saturday when Furyk shook off a slow start while chasers who started the round behind him moved past.
Nick O’Hern, who teed off five hours ahead of the final group, gave an early indication of Saturday’s free-for-all with a 64 that put him atop the leaderboard before 36-hole leaders Furyk, Charles Howell III and Greg Owen were done with lunch.
“By the time I teed off I was in about fourth place, then I played a couple of holes and I was already dropping,” Furyk said.
At 2:45 p.m., 10 players were tied for first, all on a course where Brian Gay set tournament records in 2009 with a 10-shot victory and 20-under score.
When Baird asked where the leaders were and was told he was on top, he quipped, “Yeah, me and eight other guys.”
Almost, Briny, almost.
Two strokes behind Furyk were two-time Verizon champ Boo Weekley (68), Stephen Ames (65), Briny Baird (66), Ricky Barnes (66), Luke Donald (67), Woody Austin (67) and Heath Slocum (67).
Right behind them at Harbour Golf Links was a group that included Camilo Villegas (67) and 2006 winner Aaron Baddeley.
In all, 22 players were within five strokes.
“Tomorrow, it’s go out and shoot as low as you can and not take your foot off the gas pedal,” said Davis, who’s never finished higher than second on the PGA Tour.
Slocum, a hunting and fishing buddy of Boo Weekley, looked as if he would finish the day in front as he came to Harbour Town’s 18th hole. But he sent his approach shot into a steep-faced bunker behind the green and could not get out on his first try.
He settled for a double bogey-6 – his second straight at the hole bordering Calibogue Sound – and a prime chase spot on Sunday.
“I’m due for a birdie tomorrow,” Slocum said of the finishing hole.
Furyk appeared as if he didn’t have the stuff to keep up with just one birdie on the front side where players traditionally make runs. He picked up the pace on the back nine, chipping in for birdie from about 40 feet away on the 11th and making a 25-foot birdie putt two holes later.
“I got off to a slow start with my ball striking today,” Furyk said. “Really made some good up and downs, kept myself in the game. Then probably down the stretch, it’s probably the best I’ve hit it all week.”
Furyk could’ve used that game last week, where he missed the cut at the Masters for just the second time in 14 appearances. He made sure to get a bit of work in on the Augusta National range that’s paying off at Harbour Town.
Davis hadn’t shot a round lower than 70 since February. Here, the Englishman posted his third straight score in the 60s to stay in the mix.
“It’s just a different feel this week, so bunched and it’s going to give guys probably three or four shots back tomorrow a great chance,” he said.
Furyk’s got that mindset as well. After a two seconds and a fourth here since 2005, he’d like to come out on top. If he doesn’t, though, he’ll let it go, like he did after missing the Masters cut last week.
“I enjoy the opportunity,” says Furyk, “and looking at the glass as half full rather than half empty like I used to.”
DIVOTS: Five-time Verizon Heritage winner Davis Love III posted a hole-in-one on the par-3 fourth hole. It was Love’s first ace in 90 rounds since first coming here in 1986. … George McNeill had an eagle-2 on the ninth hole. … Blake Adams’ roller coaster at Verizon continued. He followed an opening 77 with a 63 on Friday, the low round of the tournament. Adams was back over par Saturday with a 72. … Amateur Byeong-Hun An, who was just a shot off the lead Friday, could not keep things going in the third round with a 1-over 72 that left him nine strokes behind.
Furyk leads wild shootout in Hilton Head
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Jim Furyk says he’s done putting pressure on himself.
The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.
Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.
All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.
Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.
Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.
But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.
Back on TOUR. pic.twitter.com/OPmjaXFo1l— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 23, 2018
So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.
Speaking of greatness …
There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.
The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.
When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.
Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:
I was thinking we kick @JordanSpieth out and replace you with him... everybody wins! enjoyed yesterday man— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) January 22, 2018
Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.
Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.
This, according to Curtis Strange.
The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
@JonRahmpga and Andrew Landry.Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific, I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made a adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff.Not for me. A fan.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 23, 2018
Never went out of my way to disrupt. Having a chat wasn’t for me,my generation, or before me. Some inside baseball. Honesty.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 23, 2018
This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.
Damn millennials. They ruin everything.
By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.
Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.
Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.
Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.
But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.
The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.
Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.
Hit balls next to Kuchar yesterday and two very Matt Kuchar things happened; He didn’t miss a shot, and when he let out a fart he went, “oopsies.”— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) January 20, 2018
That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."
Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"
Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.
The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.
Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:
Many people have asked how to help Cory and his family during his time in Hawaii. We set up a GoFundMe page! Check it out and give! Thank you all for the prayers and support.https://t.co/4frdZN4vrQ— Blayne Barber™ (@BlayneBarberAU) January 22, 2018
Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite
Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.
Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.
And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.
Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.
Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.
Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.
Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel
‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host
Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced
Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.
Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.
“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.”
“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”
Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.
Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.