It’s a rare thing in sports to appreciate something for exactly what it is. On Sunday, Jim Furyk shot a 58, the lowest round in the history of the PGA Tour. He blitzed TPC River Highlands to the tune of 10 birdies and an eagle. The moment was surreal for so many reasons, chief among them the timing. Furyk, who’s battled injuries and consistency over the last 10 months, sandwiched a Friday 66 with a 73 and a 72. He was one-over entering the final round and thus teed off well before the broadcast came on Golf Channel.
Out of nowhere Furyk got hot. He went out in 27. Tweets started pouring in asking how spectators could watch Furyk. Furyk? Jim Furyk? Where is he playing this weekend?
Furyk was impossibly on. He famously shot 59 at the 2013 BMW Championship, but this was something else. He birdied every hole from 6-12 to reach 11-under with six to play. He hit every green in regulation. He even missed a few makeable putts along the way. By the time Furyk tapped in for a 12-under 58 (58!), he reasonably could have shot 56. This was the greatest score the sport has ever seen. Even if it came in a dead spot in the schedule, no one can rob Furyk of the 58 nor its significance.
And he finished fifth.
Russell Knox won the Travelers with a long par putt on 18. The last stroke was a nervy one thanks in part to a bogey on the par-3 16th. Knox produced back-to-back birdie on 13 and 14 to grab hold of the lead only to add unnecessary drama over the last three holes. He threw his hat in celebration or in relief, because he nearly gave the tournament away. Then again, it might have been aimed at the Ryder Cup ring. Knox, a Scot, now has two wins this season, which puts him just at the edge of European Team consideration. He’s currently 10th in the standings, meaning he would need Darren Clarke’s phone call to head to Hazeltine.
Is he worthy? Well, it’s that time of year. While the Europeans consider Knox’s credentials, the American fans are left with the Furyk dilemma yet again. His 58 sparked the “take the hot player” debate even if it’s a shortsighted view. Furyk carries a 10-20-4 career record at the Ryder Cup over, a pitiful output from a player who said in the aftermath of 2014, “we would have fixed this s*** a long time ago” if the US knew the winning formula. Given his record, maybe Furyk isn’t a part of that formula.
But that shouldn’t take away from his 58 (58!). What a perfect summary of golf. On a day when seemingly few were paying attention to the sport—the Olympics, NFL preseason talk, the general malaise of post-major, pre-Ryder season—Furyk delivered one of the most memorable performances in history. Somehow the man with the quirkiest, ugliest swing in the game turned in his second career sub-60 round. Incredible.
Golf is a tough sport. It’s a weird one too. We’d like to see Knox in Hazeltine in the fall. We probably don’t want to see Furyk there. The latter beat the former by 12 strokes on Sunday and lost by three. So it goes.