Newsmaker of the Year No. 8: Jim Furyk

By Ryan LavnerDecember 14, 2012, 3:00 pm

Think about it this way: Jim Furyk was three swings away from being a player-of-the-year candidate.

No, really.

If his tee shot on 16 at Olympic hadn’t been sniped into the trees . . .  

If his tee shot on 18 at Firestone had just caromed off the trees and stayed in the woods, necessitating a chip-out on his way to a two-putt bogey . . .

If his tee shot on 17 at Medinah had just found the green . . .

If that had happened, if he could have three mulligans, if he could re-do those three swings, then, well, the tone of this Newsmaker would have been decidedly different, no?

Newsmaker No. 10: Stacy Lewis | No. 9 PGA Tour

Instead, Furyk’s 2012 season was the most torturous of his 20-year pro career. It was a dizzying campaign replete with gut-wrenching disappointments – the type of season that, if not treated with the proper amount of antiseptic, could create more scars than a slasher film.

This, after all, is a proud man who has won 16 times on the PGA Tour, who has captured a major, who sits fourth on the all-time money list ($52,719,459), who has been one of the best players of his generation and who has been of the game’s great overachievers and who has for years – nay, decades – been lauded for his plodding style and gritty demeanor.

But even Furyk can endure only so much self-inflicted abuse. He played only one official event after the Ryder Cup, and told reporters at The McGladrey Classic: “I’m excited for this season to be over, only for the fact that I can turn the page and we can start talking about the future.”

If only.

In this, the Year of the Collapse – or, depending on your perspective, the Year of the Comeback – Furyk’s high-profile crash-and-burns were among the most unforgettable. 

Tied for the lead on the 70th hole at the U.S. Open, thisclose to capturing his second national championship, Furyk hit a ghastly snap-hook on the par-5 16th (the first of consecutive three-shotters), which was playing 100 yards shorter during the final round. His tee ball flew deep into the woods, and he eventually made bogey to lose the tournament. “I don’t know how to put this one into words,” he said in San Francisco, “but I had my opportunities and my chances and it was right there.”

That T-4 stung, no doubt, but an even more crippling loss came less than two months later, at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Two shots ahead as he played the par-4 18th at Firestone, Furyk’s tee shot ricocheted off the trees and (at the time, fortunately) came to rest in the fairway . . . yet he still managed to card a double-bogey 6 and lose by one to Keegan Bradley. “I have no one to blame but myself,” he said then. “But when things go wrong, it’s an empty feeling.”

Those highly publicized collapses still fresh, and in the midst of election season, Furyk’s game was analyzed from every angle – Had his putter finally abandoned him? Were his nerves frayed? – as he became one of Davis Love III’s most controversial captain’s selections for the Ryder Cup. Later, a reporter would ask Furyk if he felt compelled to try and justify the pick at Medinah. His response: “If I really cared what the critics thought the last 19 years, I wouldn’t be here.”

Which leads to the Ryder Cup. Squaring off against Sergio Garcia in Sunday singles, in a match the Americans absolutely needed to swing back momentum, Furyk kicked away a 1-up lead with back-to-back bogeys on 17 and 18. The enduring image of Furyk on the final hole – bent over, hands on his knees, a stunned look on his face – was splashed on the cover of a leading golf magazine. It epitomized that frenetic Sunday, the Americans’ meltdown, Furyk’s season, all of it. “It’s the lowest point of my year,” he would say afterward.

You could make the argument that at least Furyk, who turns 43 next May, was still competitive, still in position to win tournaments, and that would be true. The Tour’s Player of the Year just two years ago, he rebounded from a dismal 2011 to at least generate reasons for optimism: This season he had two runners-up, eight top 10s, more than $3.6 million earned.

But there was that one glaring omission, of course: zero wins. That is what resonates still, even though Furyk was tantalizingly close – three swings – from a player-of-the-year-caliber season.

“You get your tail kicked in this game a lot, and I think it makes the good times sweeter,” he said recently. “If you want to be successful, you’re going to have to bounce back. You’re going to have to learn to accept defeat in this game. It doesn’t mean you’re going to have to like it, but you’re going to have to learn to accept it and be tough about it and come back better the next time.” 

Newsmaker of the Year schedule
No. 10: Stacy Lewis
No. 9: PGA Tour
No. 8: Jim Furyk
No. 7: Dec. 16
No. 6: Dec. 19
No. 5: Dec. 21
No. 4: Dec. 23
No. 3: Dec. 26
No. 2: Dec. 28
No. 1: Dec. 31

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry