With the help of his wife’s coaching, James Furness entered the final day of the Hawley Quier Memorial with a two-stroke lead. The 35-year-old from Pottstown said after Thursday’s round that he would play the final 18 holes of the tournament one shot at a time. And that’s exactly what he did.
“Don’t get distracted by the noise and just focus on the shot at hand,” Furness said his wife, Jenny (an avid golfer), told him ahead of Friday’s final round at Moselem Springs Golf. Club.
Despite an up-and-down day as the top of the leaderboard changed frequently, Furness never checked his competitors’ scores on Friday on his way to a 3 of 73 and a 36-hole total of par 140 and a three -shot win. The victory was his first in one of Berks’ three major tournaments (Berks County Golf Association Amateur, BCGA Match-Play, Hawley Quier Memorial).
“I didn’t check the score until I hit my approach on the 18th when I hit it on the green,” Furness said. “I just did it to see, ‘Do I need to make a putt or how many putts do I have.’ So I focused on every shot and it worked.
Furness shot a 5 of 40 on the front nine. On the back, he birdied the par-5 12th and par-4 14th and bogeyed the par-4 16th.
He had a two-stroke 1-over lead for the tournament heading into the par-4 17th, where he birdied a 20-foot putt to tie the game and take a three-stroke lead over Brock Kovach.
Kovach had finished his round minutes earlier with a 2 of 72 for a total of 3 of 143.
Ross Pilliod, who started the day second at 1 under, shot a 76 on Friday to finish at 5 of 145 and tied for third with Tyler Kipp, who finished with a 72.
Furness made the green in two on the par-4 18th, and two putts to close out his victory.
Blocking out the noise was the best thing Furness could have done on a day when the best lap of the day was 2 of 72 – by Kovach, Kipp and defending champion Nicholas Fioravante – and when his lead slipped away after a front nine difficult.
Rather than bending under the pressure, the long birdie on the No. 17 served as the stroke of the day that essentially earned Furness the win.
“It was about 20 feet and broke like 6 inches,” Furness said of the putt. “The front nine wasn’t good. I missed a number of short putts within 6 feet which is pushing him. And then on the back nine he (his putts) started going into the hole and felt good. I could see it (the putt on 17) and it just went in.
Furness said he was grateful for the experience and looked forward to playing in the tournament next year.
“It’s an awesome tournament; every year is awesome,” Furness said. “They get a lot of good people. The bond is really good. I love this place so I’m happy to be the champ.