With the help of his wife’s coaching, James Furness entered the final day of the Hawley Quier Memorial holding a two-shot lead. The 35-year-old from Pottstown had said after Thursday’s round that he was going to play the tournament’s last 18 holes 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 before Friday’s final round at Moselem Springs Golf Club.
Despite having an up-and-down day while the top of the leaderboard shifted frequently, Furness never checked the scores of his competitors Friday on his way to a 3-over 73 and a 36-hole total of even-par 140 and a three -shot victory. The win was his first in one of the three Berks majors (Berks County Golf Association Amateur, BCGA Match-Play, Hawley Quier Memorial).
“I didn’t check the score until I hit my approach on 18 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 each shot and it worked.”
Furness shot a 5-over 40 on the front nine. On the back, he birdied the par-5 12th and the par-4 14th and made a bogey on the par-4 16th.
He had a two-shot lead at 1-over for the tournament heading to the par-4 17th, where he made a 20-foot birdie putt to get back to even and take a three-shot lead over Brock Kovach.
Kovach had finished his round just minutes prior with a 2-over 72 for a total of 3-over 143.
Ross Pilliod, who started the day in second at 1-under, shot a 76 on Friday to finish at 5-over 145 and tied for third place with Tyler Kipp, who closed with a 72.
Furness made the green in two on the par-4 18th, and two putted to close out his victory.
Blocking out the noise was the best thing Furness could have done on a day when the top round of the day was 2-over 72 — by Kovach, Kipp and defending champ Nicholas Fioravante — and when his lead slipped away after a tough front nine.
Rather than fold under pressure, the long birdie on No. 17 served as the shot of the day that essentially clinched Furness’ victory.
“It was about 20 feet and broke like 6 inches,” Furness said of the putt. “The front nine was not good. I missed a number of short putts within 6 feet, which is pushing it. And then on the back nine, it (his putts) started going in the hole and felt right. I could see it (the putt on 17) and it just went in.”
Furness said that he was grateful for the experience and is looking forward to playing in the tournament next year.
“This is an awesome tournament; every year it’s great,” Furness said. “They get a lot of good people. The camaraderie is really good. I love this place, and so I’m happy I’m the champ.”