ATLANTA – Jim Furyk, the only American on the Ryder Cup team without a win this year, put himself in position Friday to join them.
Furyk made seven birdies through 10 holes at East Lake – including seven 3s to start the round – until he missed a few greens on the back nine that slowed his momentum. He wound up with a 6-under 64, giving him a one-shot lead over Justin Rose going into the weekend at the Tour Championship.
As for anyone questioning whether Furyk should have been a pick for the Ryder Cup?
He was more bothered by missing a 5-foot par putt on the 18th hole than what anyone thinks about his game or being in the Ryder Cup for the eighth straight time. With 16 wins, including a U.S. Open, and having qualified for every U.S. team since 1997, Furyk stopped believing he had to prove himself a long time ago.
Look at the way I play golf – the way I swing the golf club and grip the putter, he said. Look at the way I go about my business. I don’t hit the ball very far. I’m short. If I really cared what the critics thought the last 19 years, I really wouldn’t be here. ... My teammates know that I’m going to give 110 percent. They know I have a lot of heart. I have a lot of grit, and that’s what I’m going to do.
But I’ve never felt like I have to justify myself.
All he cares about is winning the Tour Championship, with an outside shot at the FedEx Cup title and its $10 million bonus. Furyk was at 7-under 133 on a course where he won just two years ago.
Rose, who shared the 18-hole lead with Tiger Woods, made four birdies on the back nine and holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 68.
Woods went the other direction. He had to scramble for par on the 18th for a 73, his worst score at East Lake in 14 years, dating to a 76 in the second round in 1998.
I didn’t play very good today. Didn’t hit it very good, and definitely didn’t putt well, Woods said. So it was a struggle all day.
Woods was six shots behind.
Bo Van Pelt made three bogeys on the last four holes and still had a 68 that put him two shots behind at 135, along with Masters champion Bubba Watson (66).
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.
LPGA: In Prattville, Ala., defending champion Lexi Thompson shot a 3-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead into weekend play in the Navistar LPGA Classic.
Thompson, 17, had a 12-under 132 total on the links-style Senator course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Capitol Hill complex. She matched the tournament record Thursday with a career-best 63.
Last year, Thompson became the youngest champion in LPGA Tour history at age 16, winning by five strokes. Lydia Ko, 15, broke the record last month in the Canadian Women’s Open.
Mindy Kim and Mi Jung Hur were a stroke back. They played in the same group, and each shot 65.
Former Fort Wayne resident Amanda Blumenherst, who entered the day tied for third, shot a 2-over 74 in the second round. She fell to a tie for 31st with a 4-under 140.