Furyk having fun again

By Jason SobelMay 9, 2014, 7:38 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Jim Furyk has spent more than two decades on the PGA Tour. He’s played more than 500 tournaments and forgotten more than most of his fellow pros will ever know.

There are certain moments, though, that have stuck with him through time. Not just the triumphant victories and bitter defeats, but small snapshots of an entire adult life spent around the professional game.

One of those snapshots is from the 1995 Shell Houston Open. In his second year as a Tour member, the 24-year-old Furyk raced to an opening-round 67, tied for second place in a group that included longtime pro Wayne Levi. After the round, Furyk beamed about his hot start, but Levi’s view was decidedly more acerbic.

“He was just saying, ‘It's a job; it's what I do for a living; it's my occupation,’” Furyk recalled. “I was a young guy on Tour; I was thinking this is the greatest job going. I was thinking, man, just shoot me if I ever get to the point where it becomes a job. I might as well quit.”

Last year, it became a job. This was right after a T-25 at the Masters and a T-47 at the RBC Heritage – hardly poor performances, but Furyk felt something had changed. He was no longer having fun playing golf.

In short, he’d turned into Wayne Levi, circa 1995.


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Rather than quit the game, as a 24-year-old Furyk might have suggested, he decided to change. He made a conscious effort to have more fun on the golf course. Smile more. Practice less. Enjoy the journey. Stop taking it all for granted.

“After so many years and wanting to do so many more things at home with my family and my kids and missing ballgames, getting in the car and driving away knowing I'm going to miss two lacrosse games and two baseball games one week, I was getting in the car going to work rather than getting in the car going to play a golf tournament,” he admitted. “I just had to kind of reorganize things and fix things, figure out things a little bit.”

He may not have it completely figured out, but he’s taken some major steps in the process. And it’s starting to show in his game. Following a solo second-place finish at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship, he finds himself on the leaderboard halfway through The Players Championship after opening rounds of 70-68.

And yes, he’s smiling more, too.

“I had to figure out a way to make it fun again and to enjoy what I do,” he said after a second round that included five birdies against a single bogey.

Case in point: On Tuesday, rather than grind through a practice round and lengthy range session here at TPC Sawgrass as he’s done in years past, he played a casual nine holes at nearby Pablo Creek with his father (and instructor) Mike and caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan, before leaving to pick up his kids from school.

“We just had a good time,” Mike Furyk said. “We talked about that. He’s said the past few years, ‘I’m not going to be able to stay out here if I’m not having fun.’”

Of course, it’s tough to have fun when your game isn’t cooperating.

Ever since turning his cap backward in a driving rainstorm when he clinched the FedEx Cup four years ago, Furyk has failed to reach the winner’s circle, his career odometer stuck on 16 titles.

“It’s always frustrating, because he’s not playing golf for the money,” his father insisted. “He’s playing to win. He told me, ‘When I say that I’ve had a really good week and finish 10th, I’m done. Because I’m only playing to win. That’s what I want.’”

He’s now hoping that renewed happiness playing the game will lead to better results – a formula that is proving successful so far.

“Right now I've got a nice recipe,” he said. “It's not always going to be that way, but I feel like my attitude has bred my good play.”

Added the senior Furyk, “If he paces himself properly, he can keep playing. If he doesn’t, he’s going to kill himself. He’s going to burn out.”

It’s been nearly two decades since Jim Furyk hinted that if golf ever became a job, he would quit. 

That might have been the overzealous contemplation of an impressionable 24-year-old, but after more than 500 starts and forgetting more than most of his peers will ever know, the idea has stuck with him through the years, eating away at him when the game finally stopped being fun.

Since then, he’s changed. And if you believe him, it hasn’t been that difficult of a transition.

“It's not hard,” he said. “I mean, I’ve played this game my whole life because I love it.”

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x