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Furyk in the mix entering final day

Sunday, April 12, 2009

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Jim Furyk will tell you that his game is made for the U.S. Open: a gritty, grinding style with an emphasis on calm and control.

Jim Furyk matched Saturday's low score with 68. He is three shots off the lead at 8-under par entering today's final round. (Jackie Ricciardi/Staff)

His heart, however, is winning at Augusta National Golf Club.

Furyk followed a second-round 74 with a nearly mistake-free round Saturday at the Masters Tournament, matching the day's low score with 68 and vaulting him into the thick of the fight for today's final round.

With precise iron shots and a deft short game, Furyk got within two shots of the lead at one point before his only bogey of the day at No. 17. He finished at 8-under-par 208, three shots behind co-leaders Kenny Perry and Angel Cabrera and one behind Chad Campbell.

Furyk has had his chances at Augusta National before, most notably in 1998, when he shot 67-68 on the weekend and finished fourth. He said he believes today's final round will be an even better opportunity.

"Two or three times, I woke up Sunday morning with a chance to win the Masters, and I'll be excited to do it," he said. "This may be as close as I've been."

Furyk said he will feel more relaxed because of his track record in the U.S. Open. Since his breakthrough major title six years ago, he has gone to the 72nd hole at Winged Foot in 2006 and at Oakmont in 2007 with chances to win. He said those experiences, even though the courses were much different from the Augusta setup, will help him in his bid today.

"I'll be more comfortable in this position because of those tournaments," he said. "(At the U.S. Open), it's keeping the ball out of the rough. The penalty here is the undulation on the greens. The penalties are quite different, but I enjoy both tests. Mentally, I don't think there's a big difference."

Furyk began the day five shots off the lead and made his move with birdies at the two par-3 holes on the front, Nos. 4 and 6. He used 6-irons both times to set up birdie putts of 10 and 6 feet. He then ran off three birdies in a row, making short putts at Nos. 13 and 14 and chipping in at No. 15.

"I left myself with a pretty easy chip," he said of the last birdie.

Furyk missed the fairway at No. 17, had to punch out, and eventually missed a 12-foot par attempt. He two-putted for par at No. 18.

"I'm disappointed making the bogey coming in, especially after playing so well on the back nine," he said. "I felt pretty good with my golf swing."

He also feels pretty good about his chances in the final round. He is in the second-to-last group, with Campbell.

"If I play a good round (today), I have a chance," he said.

Reach Garry Smits at garry.smits@jacksonville.com.

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