Furyk made his only birdie on the par-5 second hole and had to rely on a couple of strong par saves on the back nine at Firestone for an even-par 70, giving him a one-shot lead over Louis Oosthuizen going into the final round of this World Golf Championship.
Furyk began the week with a 63, and he’s not sure he didn’t hit the ball better in the third round. Under three days of sun-baked conditions, the greens lost their moisture and enough wind arrived to make players think more than they would prefer.
Oosthuizen had to scramble for pars at the start before he settled into his round of 68.
Keegan Bradley, who can move into the top eight in the Ryder Cup standings with a runner-up finish, had a 67 and was four shots behind. He will be in the final group Sunday, when the tee times are pushed forward to avoid thunderstorms forecast throughout the day.
And that could change everything.
Instead of approach shots that spun back, even a wedge was taking a big bounce forward, making it tough to get it close. Furyk wasted the few opportunities he had early in the round, missing from 7 feet for birdie on the third and from 6 right behind the hole on the par-3 fifth hole.
“We had a little bit more wind going on, the greens firmed up a little bit, and I just felt like it was a lot harder to get iron shots close to the pin,” Furyk said.
Furyk led by five strokes on the front nine, though Firestone didn’t yield many birdies. He was at 11-under 199.
Rory McIlroy, with an outside chance of returning to No. 1 in the world if he were to win, had a 67 and joined Steve Stricker (68) at 6-under 204, five shots behind. Stricker looked to be closing in on the lead until he hooked his tee shot on the par-5 16th into the base of a pine tree and had to take a penalty shot to be able to make a swing.
Top-ranked Luke Donald also was chipping away, as he often does, until he hit a tree on the last for a bogey for a 71, falling seven shots back.
Tiger Woods broke par for the first time all week, though his 68 left him 11 shots behind on a Firestone course where he has won seven times. Woods is taking an optimistic view out of an otherwise drab week — at least he feels as though he’s hitting the ball well.
“Hitting fairways and greens, you’re shooting high rounds of 2-under par and 3-under par, that’s a good sign,” he said. “Those are your worst scores you can possibly shoot that day. It’s not good when you’re shooting those scores and you get absolutely everything out of it.”
The firm conditions and stronger wind let to a few interesting moments.
Masters champion Bubba Watson was pumped up over being able to go at the 648-yard 16th hole with an 8-iron for his second shot. Oosthuizen crushed his tee shot so far that he hit 6-iron. Then again, the green was so firm that no one could putt for eagle. Furyk tried to lay up with a 6-iron that would give him a full shot into the green, and was stunned to see it travel 250 yards. He was so close — 68 yards to the pin — that he no chance of staying on the green because he couldn’t hit it hard enough to get spin.View Entire Story
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