Jim Furyk's 58 was historic, but it may not even be the best round of 2016
Jim Furyk nearly touched a 57 or 56 at the Travelers Championship, but his 58 was enough for a top three round of 2016
Not all epic scorecards are created equal. You should all know that by now. A 59 on a 5,500-yard course is not the same as a 64 in a driving rainstorm at a major championship. Thankfully, we have the strokes gained statistic to normalize such numbers.
As a refresher, strokes gained against the field tells how much better you were in a given round than everyone else you were playing against or the field average. This matters because of what happened at The Players Championship earlier this year. On Saturday, Ken Duke shot an outrageous 65 on a windy day with nasty pins that led Jason Day (who had just set the course record of 63) to say this.
"What course was Ken Duke playing today? Can anyone tell me? Was he playing across the road? I think that should the course record. It was just an absolute joke. Sitting there looking at his score is just amazing."
Justin Thomas, who finished in the top five at that Players Championship, was still talking about Duke's 65 on Sunday after Jim Furyk shot 58 at the Travelers Championship.
"You look at something like Ken Duke's 65 on Saturday at The Players was just a flat-out joke," said Thomas. "That was something that he probably could never do again in his life, and I don't think any of us could. It was so hard, and for him to go out there and shoot 7 under was just something that was -- unless you're a golfer and you're out there playing the golf course, you can't understand."
After Furyk's 58 on Sunday at the Travelers Championship, a ridiculous score, I wondered just where it fit in with this season's best scores in terms of strokes gained. I don't have all the data, but these seem to be the primary outliers on the year.
|Sung Kang||Pebble Beach Pro-Am||2||60||10.8|
|Jim Furyk||Travelers Championship||4||58||10.7|
|Ken Duke||Players Championship||3||65||10.6|
|Justin Thomas||CIMB Classic||2||61||9.9|
|Henrik Stenson||The Open||4||63||9.8|
|Jhonattan Vegas||Barbasol Championship||2||60||9.4|
|Brandt Snedeker||Farmers Insurance Open||4||69||8.9|
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. It is a list of the rounds I can remember as being memorable or standing out because of how ridiculous they seemed at the time. As you can see, Furyk's 58 is insanely good. He was nearly 11 strokes better than the field average on Sunday at the Travelers Championship. But it's not even his best round ever in terms of strokes gained.
. @McLeanGolf Furyk beat the field by 12.1 with his 59 at the 2013 BMW. His 58 today "only" beat the field by 10.7.— Mark Broadie (@MarkBroadie) August 8, 2016
It's also not the best score of 2016. Sung Kang's second round was 10.8 (!) strokes better than the field average on the Monterrey Peninsula Course at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year. One thing to note is that Kang did that in a much smaller field than the rest of these players because of how the Pebble Beach Pro-Am is split up over three courses for the first three days.
Even Ken Duke's score of seven worse than Furyk was nearly just as good because the field average on that Saturday at The Players Championship was nearly 76. You could even make the argument that what Duke did was more impressive because The Players Championship has better players thus a stronger field.
And how about Henrik Stenson? Two of the best rounds of 2016 in the same tournament and that tournament was a major championship that he won. Wow. Brandt Snedeker's 69 in February at the Farmers Insurance Open was pretty absurd as well. Even more absurd is the fact that the field average that round was nearly 80.
The tough thing about ranking rounds like this is that even though it seems like you're getting a proper look at how much better a player was compared to his competitors, some tournaments are tougher than others (with better players) and some courses can change as the day wears on. Especially at places like The Open, but even at places like the Travelers Championship.
"Just 58 today was ridiculous, but 58 in the afternoon would have been the best score ... I mean, it is the best score, but you know what I mean," said Daniel Berger on Sunday after Furyk dropped his 58. "It just was a different golf course this afternoon than it was this morning."
No matter what, Furyk's round will stand as the all-time lowest round of around 1.5 million in PGA Tour history, although it's not the lowest score to par.
Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval were all 13 under when shooting their 59s ... though a score to par is sort of silly. The right way to look at that is course length rather than score to par because officials can set up the par to whatever they want it to be.
Furyk will always have a piece of history. And really, that's all that matters.
"I'm really proud about being on Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, especially those teams that have done well and succeeded and played well," said Furyk. "But this 59 and the 58 ... it's going to be a while, but no one else can say they've done that out here on the PGA Tour. It's really special, and it's probably going to take a little while for it to sink in and really kind of put it into perspective for me on where everything fits in."
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