Furyk not burdened by 0-for-7 streak with 54-hole lead

By Jason SobelAugust 23, 2014, 11:05 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. - Jim Furyk doesn't look like a man burdened by the past. He doesn't appear weighed down by final-round travails of recent years, as if each close call has chipped away at the inner walls of the section of his heart designated for worrying about such things as winning golf tournaments.

He doesn't sound burdened, either. Furyk’s as blue-collar as they come on the PGA Tour, so when he insists these myriad failures don’t bother him, it isn’t some sort of psychobabble designed to keep all negative thoughts from ever intruding on the space inside his head.

And he sure as hell doesn’t play golf burdened. Not during the first three rounds, at least, and certainly not during the first three rounds this week, as he’s raced to a share of the Barclays lead with one round to play.

That one round, though - the final round - is what has classified Furyk in the past. Even if he doesn’t look like it, even if he doesn’t sound like it, even if he doesn’t play golf like it, substandard Sunday afternoons have defined him lately.

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This will be yet another in a long line of opportunities for him to shed that classification. Tied with Jason Day and with 10 total players within two strokes of the lead, Furyk will receive yet another chance to absolve himself of those mighty sins.

The instances have been numerous.

Since the beginning of the 2012 season, he has held or shared the 54-hole lead on a PGA Tour-best seven previous occasions. He also holds the distinction of failing to convert the most 54-hole leads during this time, a figure that also numbers seven.

For a man who has triumphed 16 times in a brilliant career that has spanned parts of three decades, he bears the unfair label of a player who can’t get it done anymore under the bright spotlight of final-round pressure.

Stats are stats, of course, although this would be the proper time to offer a reminder of that old cautionary tale: There are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies and statistics.

Our memories recall the untimely tee shot at the 16th hole of the U.S. Open two years ago, duck-hooked so poorly that it remains a lasting image of his late-tournament inefficiency. We remember his foibles at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational two months later, a bunker shot that never escaped the sand leading to a final-hole double bogey and one-stroke loss.

Memories work in strange ways, though. Our memories tend to forget that Furyk has never blown up on any of these Sunday afternoons, hasn’t turned a 54-hole lead into a twilight round where he’s bringing in the flagsticks and turning off the locker room lights when he’s done.

On four of these occasions, he’s posted a sub-70 round, but still fell short. His scoring average in these seven rounds is 70.29. Only once has he shot a score over 71 – and that was a 74 at the U.S. Open, where 74s aren’t considered such vile creatures.

Perhaps that’s why Furyk’s own memory doesn’t work in the same manner as so many others. Maybe that’s why, when he’s asked about the failures and struggles and all of the bad things that have happened to him on Sundays in the last few years, he simply shrugs off any rationale for them.

“It's done; it's over,” he said. “I've thought about those situations and how I could handle them better. … Just put it behind me and try to use it to my advantage in the future.”

He won’t block them from his mind, but he likewise won’t use them as inspiration for this next opportunity, either. He won’t feel an extra twinge of adrenaline just to prove the doubters wrong or erase any negative sentiments about him.

“I don't need any motivation. Sitting tied for the lead in a big of golf tournament on a golf course that I really enjoy playing and have a lot of respect for. I think it's a great golf course. No extra motivation needed. I'm just happy to be in a good spot and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Happy. There aren’t many players who would employ that adjective when shouldering a similar load to what Furyk has endured over the last few years. There aren’t many who would look at an 0-for-7 record when holding a 54-hole lead and relish the next chance for success more than being frightful of the next chance for failure.

So maybe that’s what defines Furyk, more than the labels about Sunday struggles. He doesn’t mind getting knocked down and dirty, then picking himself up and dusting himself off and getting ready to for another opportunity.

He doesn’t look burdened by it, doesn’t sound burdened by it and doesn’t play golf like he’s burdened by it. Breaking that streak this time will help unburden those who don’t believe 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