Furyks Strength Costs Him Second US Open


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.'

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open