ATLANTA — Jim Furyk, the only American on the Ryder Cup team without a win this year, put himself in position Friday to join them.
Furyk made seven birdies through 10 holes at East Lake — including seven 3s to start the round — until he missed a few greens on the back nine that slowed his momentum. He wound up with a 6-under 64, giving him a one-shot lead over Justin Rose going into the weekend at the Tour Championship.
As for anyone questioning whether Furyk should have been a pick for the Ryder Cup?
He was more bothered by missing a 5-foot par putt on the 18th hole than what anyone thinks about his game or being in the Ryder Cup for the eighth straight time. With 16 wins, including a U.S. Open, and having qualified for every U.S. team since 1997, Furyk stopped believing he had to prove himself a long time ago.
“Look at the way I play golf — the way I swing the golf club and grip the putter,” he said. “Look at the way I go about my business. I don’t hit the ball very far. I’m short. If I really cared what the critics thought the last 19 years, I really wouldn’t be here. ... My teammates know that I’m going to give 110 percent. They know I have a lot of heart. I have a lot of grit, and that’s what I’m going to do.
“But I’ve never felt like I have to justify myself.”
All he cares about is winning the Tour Championship, with an outside shot at the FedEx Cup title and its $10 million bonus. Furyk was at 7-under 133 on a course where he won just two years ago.
Rose, who shared the 18-hole lead with Tiger Woods, made four birdies on the back nine and holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 68.
Woods went the other direction.
The lone bright spot was a bunker shot that was among the best he has ever hit. With a quarter of the ball below the surface of the sand from a fairway bunker on the third hole, he caught a 9-iron so perfectly that it came out low and ran across the green to 6 feet for birdie.
The rest of the day was forgettable — a muffed pitch from a bad lie on No. 8 that led to double bogey, and a series of bad swings that put him in bad positions on the back nine and led to four bogeys. He had to scramble for par on the 18th for a 73, his worst score at East Lake in 14 years, dating to a 76 in the second round in 1998.
PRATTVILLE, Ala.— Defending champion Lexi Thompson shot a 3-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead into weekend play in the LPGA Classic.
The 17-year-old Thompson had a 12-under 132 total on the links-style Senator course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Capitol Hill complex. She matched the tournament record Thursday with a career-best 63.
Mindy Kim and Mi Jung Hur were a stroke back. They played in the same group and each shot 65.