Golf: Furyk emerges from Harbour Town shootout
AP Sports Writer
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Jim Furyk withstood a crazy Saturday shootout that could lead to an even wilder final round at the Verizon Heritage.
Furyk shot a 67 for an 11-under 202, good for a one-stroke lead over Brian Davis (66).
Another stroke back were two-time Verizon champ Boo Weekley (68), Stephen Ames (65), Briny Baird (66), Ricky Barnes (66), Luke Donald (67), Woody Austin (67) and Heath Slocum (67).
Right behind them at Harbour Golf Links was a group that included Camilo Villegas (67) and 2006 winner Aaron Baddeley.
In all, 23 players were within five strokes of the top.
"Tomorrow, it's go out and shoot as low as you can and not take your foot off the gas pedal," said Davis, who's never finished higher than second on the PGA Tour.
Furyk, at No. 6 in the world, is the highest-ranked player here following Masters' week. Not that Furyk was all that worn out since he missed the cut at Augusta National.
Nick O'Hern, who teed off five hours ahead of the final group, gave an early indication of Saturday's free-for-all with a 64 that put him atop the leaderboard before 36-hole leaders Furyk, Charles Howell III and Greg Owen were done with lunch.
"By the time I teed off I was in about fourth place, then I played a couple of holes and I was already dropping," Furyk said.
At 2:45 p.m., 10 players were tied for first, all on a course where Brian Gay set tournament records in 2009 with a 10-shot victory and 20-under-par score.
When Baird asked where the leaders were and was told he was on top, he quipped, "Yeah, me and eight other guys."
He was almost right.
Slocum, a hunting and fishing buddy of Boo Weekley, looked as if he would finish the day in front as he came to Harbour Town's 18th hole. But he sent his approach shot into a steep-faced bunker behind the green and could not get out on his first try.
He settled for a double-bogey 6 — his second straight at the hole bordering Calibogue Sound — and a prime chase spot on Sunday.
Furyk appeared as if he didn't have the stuff to keep up with just one birdie on the front side where players traditionally make runs. He picked up the pace on the back nine, chipping in for birdie from about 40 feet away on the 11th and making a 25-foot birdie putt two holes later.
"I got off to a slow start with my ball striking today," Furyk said. "Really made some good up and downs, kept myself in the game. Then probably down the stretch, it's probably the best I've hit it all week."
Furyk could've used that game last week, where he missed the cut at the Masters for just the second time in 14 appearances. He made sure to get a bit of work in on the Augusta National range that's paying off at Harbour Town.
Davis hadn't shot a round lower than 70 since February. Here, the Englishman posted his third straight score in the 60s to stay in the mix.
"It's just a different feel this week, so bunched and it's going to give guys probably three or four shots back tomorrow a great chance," he said.