“On a golf course like this, you have to go from spot to spot,” Furyk said. “It doesn’t have to look or be fancy. It has to work.”
What they did worked Saturday. When Furyk, playing with Woods, opened with bogeys at 1 and 5, he didn’t sulk or scowl. The 2003 U.S. Open champ strode forward, his expression changing not a bit. He came back with birdies at 7 and 11, gutsy saves from greenside bunkers at 12 and 14, and a round that had his listless, emotionless efficiency written all over it, a 70.
“Obviously, I like being up front in the position I’m in,” he said.
McDowell, the Northern Irishman who became enormously popular here after his 2010 win at Pebble Beach, heard encouragement from the galleries all day, with several offers of a post-round pint.
“People are stereotyping me,” he said. “. . . Kind of under some illusion I like a cold beer.”
Any cold beers would have to wait until Sunday night, because McDowell knows he has more work to do, with Furyk at his side. He admitted to being nervous prior to teeing off on Saturday — as he was for the third round at Pebble Beach. But he tried to get clinical about it. In a way, he tried to transform into Furyk.
“You’ve just really got to be unemotional as possible as you can on this golf course,” McDowell said. “I tried to go out today and have two emotions” good emotions and neutral ones.”
That way, he could overcome an errant tee shot at No. 9 that led to his only bogey of the day and come back with a birdie at 10, another at 12, another at the last.
And that left him with a night to try to get some rest, to try to slow his heart rate, to try to match Furyk. Because that approach beat everyone in the field through three rounds, Woods very much included.