By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LAKE FOREST, Illinois (Reuters) - Jim Furyk became only the sixth player to shoot a magical 59 on the PGA Tour with a sizzling display of near flawless shot-making in Friday's second round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club.
Despite breezy conditions on the outskirts of Chicago, the American piled up 11 birdies, one bogey and an eagle at the par-four 15th to fire a course record 12-under 59 that left him in a tie for the lead after 36 holes with compatriot Brandt Snedeker.
Needing to birdie his final hole, the par-four ninth, for the magical number, Furyk split the fairway off the tee, struck a superb gap wedge from 103 yards to three feet and calmly rolled in the putt before pumping his right fist in delight.
"It'll sink in later," Furyk told reporters after rebounding in stunning fashion from his opening 72.
"I'm excited ... but I'll have to calm down later on tonight and realise that I've got myself in contention in a golf tournament where I was, whatever, nine back starting the day.
"I still have a good weekend ahead of me. I'm excited for that. But no, I'll enjoy these next few hours at least and have fun with it."
Furyk's electrifying score lowered the course record of 63, set by fellow American Snedeker the previous day, and left him with an 11-under total of 131 in the third of the PGA Tour's four FedExCup playoff events.
He hit 14 of 14 fairways, reached 17 of 18 greens in regulation and totalled only 23 putts.
"I've played a couple of good ones (rounds) throughout my career," said the 16-times PGA Tour winner whose only major victory came at the 2003 U.S. Open. "I remember a 62 at Doral once where I think the next best score was 67.
"That kind of defines really good rounds is a guy goes out and shoots four or five shots better than the rest of the field.
"But that magic number, it's hard to get under 30 on (one) nine, and then it's really hard to get under 60 for a day. It definitely played some tricks with my head on the way in."
Furyk set up his astonishing round with an explosive outward nine of eight-under 28 that included his eagle at the 15th where he holed out from 115 yards in the fairway.
Further birdies at the second, third, and fourth raised hopes of a possible first 58 on the U.S. circuit but the 43-year-old American made his only mistake of the day with a three-putt bogey at the fifth.
However, he immediately recovered by sinking an 11-foot birdie putt at the seventh and, despite failing to birdie the par-five eighth, signed off in style with another birdie at the ninth.
"A little hectic down the stretch," Furyk smiled. "Just told myself on nine, 'How many opportunities are you going to have in your life to do this? Got to take advantage of it.'
"I tried to knock it in there tight and make it as easy on yourself as you can. There's not much I could have improved on today, so I think I'll sleep well."
The five players who have shot 59s on the PGA Tour are Americans Al Geiberger (1977 Memphis Classic), Chip Beck (1991 Las Vegas Invitational), David Duval (1999 Bob Hope Classic) and Paul Goydos (2010 John Deere Classic) as well as Australian Stuart Appleby (2010 Greenbrier Classic).