Jim Furyk watches his tee shot on the 13th hole (John Bazemore / Associated…)
ATLANTA — No statement was necessary. At the same time, Jim Furyk sure didn't mind writing down all those 3s.
"To be able to write '3' on your card nine times in the first 11 holes was a lot of fun," Furyk said after Friday's six-under-par 64 propelled him to a one-stroke lead over Justin Rose at the midway point of the Tour Championship.
Furyk strung together seven 3s to begin his day at East Lake Golf Club, then tossed in a pair of 4s as he made the turn in six-under 29. Heading to the back nine, the 42-year-old pro began with two more 3s before the momentum stalled.
"I just circled every hole [for birdie], it seemed like," said Masters champion Bubba Watson, who as Furyk's playing partner had the responsibility of keeping his card.
Not that Furyk's day was free from stress. Three bogeys over the final six holes prevented him from building a bigger cushion, prompting him to slam his yardage book on the scoring table after a short par save slid wide at No.18.
"I'd be smiling just a touch more if I knocked in that four-footer on the last hole," Furyk said. "That always leaves you with a sour taste. But all in all, it's been 30 minutes since I finished and I'm in good spirits."
Somewhere on Georgia's coastline, Davis Love III had to be smiling. The U.S. Ryder Cup captain looked past Sunday collapses at the U.S. Open and Bridgestone Invitational to make Furyk one of his wild-card picks.
"He's a steady player," Watson said. "He can make some birdies when he needs to."
Furyk's 64 was his best ever at East Lake, where a nail-biting victory two years ago gave him the $10-million FedEx Cup crown. He completed two rounds in seven-under 133 to keep a stroke ahead of Rose, who birdied his final hole for a 68.
Watson (66) and Bo Van Pelt (68) were two shots off the pace, followed by Dustin Johnson (67) and Matt Kuchar (69). Rory McIlroy was another shot back.
It was a frustrating day for Tiger Woods, who went from a 66 and share of the first-round lead to a 73 that was exceeded by only two of 30 pros in the field. Four bogeys in his final eight holes dropped him six shots off Furyk's pace.
"I didn't hit it very good," he said, "and definitely didn't putt well. So it was a struggle all day."
Asked if he could explain the seven-shot swing, Woods replied: "Yep. Golf."
Furyk can sympathize. He might have come to East Lake leading the points chase if he had closed the deal at the U.S. Open and Bridgestone.
But an ugly duck-hook three holes from the finish at Olympic Club allowed Webb Simpson to win the Open title. At Bridgestone, he three-putted the final hole to hand the trophy to Keegan Bradley.
Furyk also failed to close out a Sunday lead at the Transitions Championship, prompting critics to wonder if Love was wise to use a pick on him.
"Really, the opinions that matter to me are those of my captain and those of my teammates," Furyk said. "There were eight guys that had a voice in saying who they got to pick. … I'm humbled and honored that those eight individuals and Davis chose me."