By Mark Lamport-Stokes
AKRON, Ohio (Reuters) - American veteran Jim Furyk birdied three of his last five holes in firm conditions at Firestone Country Club to charge to a five-shot clubhouse lead in the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Friday.
Though Furyk bogeyed his final hole after hitting his approach into a bunker, a second successive 66 gave him a commanding advantage over his closest challengers as he posted an eight-under 132 total.
Overnight leader Danny Lee of New Zealand followed his opening 65 with a 72 to finish at three under, level with Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell (71) and Swede Henrik Stemson (69) in the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event.
Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, the biggest drawcard this week in the absence of injured world number one Rory McIlroy and eight-times former champion Tiger Woods, was a further stroke back after a 68.
Furyk, a 17-times champion on the PGA Tour who has yet to win at Firestone despite several close calls over the years, benefited from some good work on the practice range as he racked up seven birdies and three bogeys to take over at the top.
"Obviously I'm happy with back-to-back 66s," the 45-year-old American told reporters. "Yesterday I felt like I played a really good round. I got the ball in the hole. I scored.
"I had a few things I wanted to work on on my golf swing. I came out today, I felt a little better about it. I hit the ball more solid. Hit more fairways. Had more confidence."
Furyk has recorded nine top-10s in his previous 15 appearances at Firestone but does not feel any sense of unfinished business on the tree-lined layout.
"It's one of my favorite courses we play," said the American, who ended a five-year title drought on the PGA Tour with a playoff victory at the RBC Heritage in April.
"So I'm disappointed, 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.
"I'm going to try to do the same things this weekend and not really look at the leaderboard that much, try to shoot under par every day."
McDowell, like Furyk a medium-length hitter at best, felt the conditions at sun-baked Firestone this week were an ideal fit for both players.
"The golf course is firm and fast and really tricky and better for guys like me and Jim Furyk, rather than the usual Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroys that play well around Firestone," he said. "It really requires a lot of grinding."
(Editing by Andrew Both)