Furyk closes in on Tour Championship, FedEx bonus

When Jim Furyk was walking from the practice area to the first tee at East Lake Golf Club, a voice from the crowd offered this advice: “Just go play golf.” Furyk didn’t need to turn around and look; he knew the voice belonged to his father, Mike, his swing coach and mentor. It was an uncomplicated suggestion from the man who has helped his son become one of the most consistent performers on the PGA Tour.

So Furyk, being a good son, heeded the advice. On a day when his swing wasn’t quite as effective as it had been for the first 36 holes and with the wind a bit more of a factor, Furyk rolled his way around East Lake in even par. A third-round 70 was good enough to put Furyk alone in first place at 8 under and set up what promises to be an interesting final round Sunday at The Tour Championship.

After three rounds, Furyk has a one-shot lead over 2004 champion Retief Goosen and Luke Donald, both at 7 under. Lurking at 5 under is Geoff Ogilvy, while Paul Casey and Kevin Na are tied for fifth at 4 under.

A victory also could give Furyk the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus that comes along with winning the four-week playoff. Furyk would win the FedEx Cup if he wins The Tour Championship and if Paul Casey ties for second or worse, if Charley Hoffman finishes tied for third or worse, if Steve Stricker ties for second or worse, if Matt Kuchar ties for sixth or worse and if Dustin Johnson ties for fourth or worse.

Guess what? If current conditions hold, Furyk would be the FedEx Cup champion, something which seemed unlikely when he was disqualified from the first playoff event for missing the starting time in the pro-am and when entered this week’s tournament in 11th place.

“It’s hard not to put the FedEx Cup and trying to win that, out of your mind,” Furyk said. “But you can’t focus on that issue. The only thing I can do is go out and try to win a golf tournament. Where I finish in the FedEx Cup is going to depend on how I play, but it also depends on how the rest of the players play and where they fall in order, and there’s nothing I can do about that. First and foremost, I want to go out there and try to win a golf tournament.”

Furyk likely will need to hold off Goosen, who has posted a 66 the past two days. Goosen doesn’t have a victory in 2010, but has nine top-10 finishes even though he missed seven weeks with a broken toe and broken finger. When asked how the injuries occurred, the dry-witted Goosen quipped, “First I kicked him, then I hit him.”

He then explained the toe injury came while bumping it against the side of a chair, and the finger injury took place when he fell on the stairs while playing with his children and caught his pinkie in the railing.

Goosen has driven the ball well this week, which has put him in position to get maximum effort from his putting game. “The key would be to keep hitting the fairways,” he said. “Give yourself lots of birdie chances on this course, and you can shoot a good round.”

Goosen said his goal was to beat Furyk on Sunday, saying, “If I finish ahead of him, then I’ve probably got a good chance of winning.”

Not that anyone should discount Donald, who played well except for a double-bogey at No. 15, the easiest hole on the course. He hit a poor approach shot and wound up three-putting.

Kuchar, who came into the week as the FedEx Cup leader, shot a 72 and tied for 23rd at 4 over. But he’s still second in the projected FedEx Cup points standings.

“I’d like to have a good round of golf, that’s really it,” Kuchar said. “I’m not really concerned 'bout anything else but playing well [Sunday].”