Furyks Strength Costs Him Second US Open

By Associated PressJune 17, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- Jim Furyk was too strong for his own good.
 
Tied for the lead on the 17th tee, Furyk gambled that he could hit driver on the uphill par 4.
 
He was wrong.
 
Instead of a second U.S. Open title, he's just second.
 
'No one likes consolation prizes,' the 2003 champion said Sunday night. 'I'm proud of the way I played, and I'm proud of those finishes. But you know, a second is not that much fun, to be honest with you.'
 
Furyk and Tiger Woods finished at 6-over 286 for the tournament, one behind Angel Cabrera.
 
Furyk had played some of the best golf of anyone on the weekend. While everyone else was falling away, he was making a steady climb up the leaderboard with a pair of even-par 70s. When he rolled in a putt on 15 for his third straight birdie, it moved him to the top of the leaderboard and into a tie with Cabrera.
 
Hang on for three more holes, and he could force a playoff. Better yet, make a birdie or two, and he would be the U.S. Open champ in the city where he grew up.
 
'I played well all day,' he said. 'I had a lot of opportunities. It just didn't work out.'
 
And it's all thanks to that 17th hole.
 
The tees were pushed up for Sunday's final round, making the already short par 4 play at 306 yards. Furyk will never be mistaken for a big hitter, but even he could have -- should have -- played an iron or a 3-wood off the tee.
 
But he went ahead and pulled out the driver.
 
'I didn't think I would hit the ball -- I haven't hit a ball anywhere within 20 yards of anywhere that one went,' he said. 'I was shocked to see how far it went. At my length, I can hit the ball left of the green and it had an avenue up the center, and that's where I wanted to go all week.
 
'The ball I hit today carried a lot further. I was surprised by how far it went, and didn't realize from the tee box that I put myself in that poor of a position.'
 
Instead of having a clear shot to the green from the fairway, he was buried in thick, snarly rough on the short side of the green with no angle to the hole. The ball was down so deep, in fact, that Furyk's pitch traveled a whopping 10 yards.
 
'I should have been able to dig it out,' he said. 'I was playing away from the pin because I had no shot at it.'
 
Though the ball spun past from the pin, he still had a chance to save par, but his 8-foot putt hit the lip and caromed off.
 
'The play I made was the play,' he said. 'If I went back, I wouldn't hit left of the green. But no, it was the play. I would stick by that play through and through with the way the wind conditions and the pin position was. In my mind, I made the right decision.
 
'I shouldn't have hit the ball so far left, but I'm surprised it went as far as it did.'
 
Cabrera was already in the clubhouse, so Furyk had one final chance to catch him. He hit a nice drive into the 18th fairway, but his second shot had too much on it, too. It landed on the collar along the upper left edge, with the pin downhill and to the right.
 
His long birdie putt rolled tantalizingly close to the cup, and the cheers grew louder with every turn of the ball. But it didn't break like he needed it to, and it ran about 6 feet below the hole.
 
'Getting that close and not being able to win the golf tournament, yeah, it stings a little,' Furyk said. 'But I went down swinging.'
 
It's the second straight year Furyk has finished a heartbreaking second.
 
In the bunker on 18 at Winged Foot, he made a spectacular shot that put him 5 feet below the hole. With Phil Mickelson's collapse, all he had to do was make par and he could have forced a playoff with Geoff Ogilvy. But his putt caught the right edge of the cup and refused to drop.
 
The bogey left him in a second-place tie with Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie, one stroke behind Ogilvy.
 
The scenario this year may have been different, but the ending was all too much the same.
 
'I didn't do all that much wrong, I didn't hit that many bad shots,' Furyk said. 'I just wasn't able to dig it out of the rough and get the ball on the green on two on 17. In the end, that's going to be the difference.
 
'If I had to kick myself on one shot, I would love to go hit the 17th tee shot again.'
 

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    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

    "The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).


    Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    “Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.