By Mark Lamport-Stokes AKRON, Ohio - PGA Tour veteran Jim Furyk has twice come agonisingly close to victory at Firestone and on Friday he put himself in a good position to finally cross the finish line here in top spot.
The 45-year-old American fired a four-under-par 66 for a second day in a row at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to establish a commanding four-stroke halfway lead.
Although he still has 36 holes left at the World Golf Championships (WGC) event, Furyk has an extra bounce in his step after ending a five-year title drought on the PGA Tour in April.
"It's nice to get some confidence," Furyk told reporters as he reflected on his playoff victory four months ago at the RBC Heritage.
He had finished runner-up seven times since his previous win at the 2010 Tour Championship. "It had been so long since I'd won. Had I not won at Hilton Head, we'd be talking about how many leads I took into Sunday and didn't work out and how long it's been since I've won and why haven't I? It helps any time you get over the hump and go ahead and win.
"Hopefully I'll play well tomorrow and get myself in position for Sunday. If I do, I'll look back on that round and what I did right and try to do those things again." Furyk, a 17-times champion on the PGA Tour, has squandered two previous opportunities to win on the heavily tree-lined layout at Firestone.
In 2001, he lost a marathon playoff on the seventh extra hole to Tiger Woods. In 2012, he double-bogeyed the final hole to be edged out by fellow American Keegan Bradley after leading the tournament from the opening round.
"I've lost some tournaments in some pretty poor fashions, but I don't think I've let one ever slip nearly as bad as this one," Furyk said after his late collapse in 2012. "This was my worst effort to finish off an event."
Three years on, he still feels the sting of disappointment. "I'm disappointed I've never won here," he said. "It's one of my favourite courses we play. Before I'd won at Hilton Head (for the first time) in 2010, that was another course where I'd always wanted to win.
"So I'm disappointed (never to have won at Firestone), but to have like a chip on my shoulder. No. I don't look at it like that. It's another year and opportunity, and we're only halfway."