Furyks Major to Win

By Mercer BaggsJune 14, 2003, 4:00 pm
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- If the final round is anything like its predecessor, it may take a smattering of birdies on the front nine and pars in bulk on the back to win the 103rd U.S. Open.
 
With the sun making its first appearance of the week, several players jumped into contention on the more elementary front side Saturday, before getting stumped on the more difficult back.
 
But through it all, Jim Furyk remained in the top spot on the leaderboard. He rammed home a 25-foot birdie putt at the last for a round of 3-under 67. At 10-under-par 200, hes three strokes removed from Australian Stephen Leaney, who had his second-consecutive 68.
 
Ive always wanted to win a major championship, said Furyk, who has 11 career top-10s in golf's four biggest events without a victory. Obviously, our goal is to go out and win golf tournaments and win major championships. Thats how were judged. Thats what I work for, what Ive wanted to do since I was a kid.
 
Leaney has won three times on the European Tour, and six times on the Australasian Tour.
 
'I know how to win tournaments and how to control myself when I start to get away from what I should be thinking,' said the 34-year-old, who missed the cut in his only other U.S. Open appearance, in 1999.
 
'There's a chance that I can go out tomorrow and have a bad round. But there's also a chance that I can go out and play well and actually win the tournament.'
 
Furyk's 54-hole aggregate breaks the tournament scoring record by three strokes. But scoring was much harder this time around. After two days where red saturated the scoreboard, only 15 of the 68 players broke par in round three.
 
Overnight co-leader Vijay Singh is now five behind his Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., neighbor after a 2-over 72.
 
With a par of 36 on the first nine and a par of 34 on the second, Furyk shot 33-34; Leaney 33-35; Singh 34-38; Jonathan Byrd 34-37; Dicky Pride 32-34; Justin Leonard 34-38; Nick Price 33-36.
 
The wind picked up, Price said of the conditions as the day wore on. The back nine was very difficult, as you can tell by the scores.
 
Price and Singh share third place at 5-under. Pride, Byrd, Canadian Ian Leggatt (68) and Argentine Eduardo Romero (70) are tied for fifth place at 4-under.
 
Notice one glaring omission? That would be defending champion Tiger Woods.
 
Simply put, Woods just hasnt had It this week. The It that can crush the will of those near his name on the leaderboard.
 
He failed to make a birdie in the first round. He then went another 16-hole stretch, covering Friday and Saturday, before making one, as well.
 
Tigers round got off to a foreboding start when a high-pitched whistle resonated from the gallery at the top of his swing on his second shot to the first hole. He shanked his shot dead right, but managed to make par. One of the only positives on the day.
 
His one-birdie, six-bogey performance left him 11 off the lead in his quest to become the first player since Curtis Strange, in 1988 and 89, to successfully defend his title.
 
Woods has posted some unimpressive numbers in his last three starts. He shot bookend rounds of 76-75 at the Masters. He had a 76 in the third round of the Memorial. And now a 5-over-par 75 in the third round, his worst score in this event as a professional.
 
I didnt play that badly, thats the funny thing. I just didnt make anything, said Woods, who took 35 putts in the third round. I could never get a feel for the greens today. They looked fast, but putted slow.
 
For the record, Arnold Palmer, in 1960 at Cherry Hills, owns the largest final-round comeback in the U.S. Open. He was seven strokes back starting that Sunday and shot 65 to win by two over Jack Nicklaus.
 
Palmer birdied six of his first seven holes en route to victory. Woods need only to look to Nick Price to know such a start is possible at Olympia Fields.
 
Price birdied his first four holes, and five of his first six; he then gave away four of those shots over the next six. He dropped all the way to 4-under before birdieing the last.
 
His downfall began at the par-3 seventh. At 9-under par, and leading the event, he hit his tee shot into the right greenside bunker. The ball buried near the lip and he made bogey.
 
Price was trying to become just the third man to get to double digits under par in the 103-year history of this championship.
 
Instead, that distinction belongs to Furyk. After beginning his round with four straight pars, he birdied Nos. 5 and 6. And when he made his putt at the par-4 ninth, he found himself at 10-under par, one shot ahead of Singh.
 
Woods and Gil Morgan were the only two players to reach double digits under par. Woods finished the 2000 Open at 12-under, while Morgan reached that same mark in 1992 (both came at Pebble Beach).
 
But, as Morgan found it ' he played his final 29 holes in 17-over to finish eight behind the winner ' its difficult to breath in that rarefied air.
 
Furyk quickly dropped a shot at the 10th, and then missed a two-foot birdie putt at the par-4 11th.
 
He remained at 9-under until he made a 40-foot birdie putt at the par-3 15th.
 
Meanwhile, Singh was at minus-8. He spent most of the third round treading water, making two birdies and one bogey over his first 15 holes. Then he started to sink, bogeying 16, 17 and 18.
 
The last three holes, Im a little disappointed in the way I finished, Singh said. Theres a lot of holes tomorrow.
 
Furyk also dropped a shot at the par-3 17th, but finished with a fist-pump birdie at the par-4 finishing hole.
 
This is the first time that Furyk has taken a lead into the final round of a major championship. He is 0-for-3 in converting 54-hole leads on tour into victory (though he has won three 90-hole events when leading after four rounds.)
 
My goal was to go out and play a solid round of golf, and put myself in position for Sunday, he said. Mission accomplished.
 
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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.