Tour Championship 2012: Jim Furyk races out to a 64 and the lead at East Lake

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Rory McIlroy, who is leading the FedEx Cup, had a 68 and was only four shots behind. He still has the best shot at the $10 million bonus, though he remains far more interested in winning his third straight tournament, and fourth in his last five starts. McIlroy was fortunate not to tumble down the leaderboard, but he scrambled for par on three of five holes at the start of his round, and made up plenty of ground with a 40-foot eagle putt on the 15th.

“I just have to try to think of my standing in this golf tournament, not really think about anything else,” he said.

Furyk hasn’t won since he turned his cap around in the rain, saved par from a bunker and won the Tour Championship in 2010, along with the FedEx Cup.

He lost in a four-man playoff at Innisbrook. He was tied for the lead at the U.S. Open with three holes to play — two of them par 5s — until he hooked his tee shot into the trees and made bogey on the 16th. And he led at Firestone from the opening round until chopping up the final hole for a double bogey to lose by one.

“I think that my personality is that I’m 75 percent mad that I haven’t closed the door,” he said. “I have to be reminded, whether it’s my teacher or my caddie or my wife or whoever it may be, that ‘You’re playing well. Be patient. Let it happen.’ Instead of the silver lining in the cloud, I’m definitely tougher on myself than anyone else.”

Furyk was close to perfect on the front nine at East Lake.

He spent close to an hour on the practice range Thursday afternoon, mostly hitting his driver, and it paid off in the second round. East Lake can only be attacked from the fairway, and only one of Furyk’s six birdie putts on the front nine was over 5 feet — that as a 15-footer on his opening hole.

“I just didn’t hit enough fairways yesterday,” Furyk said. “I felt like my iron play was sharp, but I was playing from the rough too much and scrambling a couple times too many. So I wanted to get the ball in play. I did a good job of that, and I set myself up for a lot better iron shots, and my iron game was as good as it’s been all year on the front nine. … So you’ve got to feel good about it.”

He’ll feel even better if he can go to Medinah next week with his 17th career win, though that don’t determine how he plays.

And if anyone is questioning Furyk being a captain’s pick, he wasn’t sure who it was. The eight players who qualified all weighed in with their choices. So did the assistant captains, along with U.S. captain Davis Love III. For them, taking Furyk didn’t seem to be a problem.

Woods certainly didn’t feel that it was.

“It’s not that controversial to us as players,” Woods said. “But to some it might be who are outside the team. … He’s been so solid and so rock steady. He’s a great team player, and he’s playing well. As I said, he’s two swings away from being in the top five in points.”

Those two swings — a tee shot at Olympic, a 7-iron at Firestone — actually would have put Furyk at No. 1 on the Ryder Cup points list. Either way, he’ll be at Medinah. For now, his focus is on two more days at East Lake.

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