Furyk surprises himself in standout first round
Jim Furyk said he rarely steps onto the first tee at the first round of a golf tournament expecting to win.
That was especially true Thursday at the Masters Tournament.
Furyk couldn't have anticipated what would happen, not after the results of his past two tournaments: missing the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and tying for 52nd at the Transitions Championship.
"The one thing you learn is you're never surprised by this game," said the 13-time PGA Tour winner. "A lot can happen real fast."
A lot did happen to Furyk in the opening round of the tournament he would most love to win. He hit every green at Augusta National Golf Club, missed only three fairways and shot 6-under-par 66 to put himself one shot off the lead held by Chad Campbell.
Furyk made a downhill, twisting 22-foot birdie putt at the par-4 17th to complete a streak of four birdies in a row. When he signed for his lowest Masters score in 47 rounds -- and his first in the 60s since 2006 -- he had the clubhouse lead by one shot.
Campbell caught and passed him within 30 minutes, and Hunter Mahan tied Furyk at 6-under later in the afternoon. That didn't diminish the accomplishment for the 2003 U.S. Open champion, whose helicopter swing and low ball flight don't always mesh with Augusta National.
"I've probably had to work a little bit harder on this one than the other major championships," Furyk said. "This one is the one I look forward to the most, I promise you that."
Furyk made the turn at 2-under, making short birdie putts at Nos. 2 and 9. After four pars in a row, he hit an 8-iron to within four feet at No. 14, a pitching wedge to three feet at No. 15 and a low 6-iron he thought was a mis-hit but ended up eight feet from the hole.
Furyk rolled in the putts on all three holes, then highlighted his round with the birdie at No. 17. He corrected his first glance at the putt when playing partner Phil Mickelson, slightly away but with a similar track to the hole, under-read the break and watched it curl away short of the cup.
Furyk had a 30-footer for birdie at No. 18, left it four feet short, then made it for par. He had several other short birdie attempts on the front that he missed, but wasn't about to quibble.
"I really went out with a game plan to be patient, to play all the shots and play the holes the way I planned and the best way I knew how, and not really try to pinch one in there or force one in there," he said.
Furyk was in such a zone that he was surprised to learn in his post-round news conference that he had hit every green.
"That's probably something I will never replicate again," he said.