He is not the best player in professional golf. But he is the best grinder. And, in case you hadnt noticed, theres a lot of grinding going on in professional golf these days.
Sunday afternoon in Ontario, Furyk ground down the rest of the field at the Canadian Open with a final-round 64 that featured a spectacular hole-in-one, but was more noteworthy for its inexorability.
Maybe, Furyk said, its the beginning of a big run.
To be sure the PGA TOUR is poised for a big run. Next week the WGC caravan unfolds its tents in Akron. The week after that its the PGA Championship in Tulsa followed, soon thereafter, by the inaugural FedExCup Playoffs topped off by the Presidents Cup.
Look for Furyk to be in the middle of the mix in all of these events.
Meanwhile, the complete list of winners worldwide Sunday may have been the most interesting in golf all year.
Natalie Gulbis officially separated herself from invidious comparisons to tennis player Anna Kournikova. Until Sunday in France, Gulbis had never won on the LPGA. Kournikova, who shares, among other things with Gulbis, an abnormally-high number of hits on Web sites all across cyberspace, still hasnt won an official womens tour event in her sport.
Gulbis has been getting closer all year. She has Solheim Cup experience. And she has the estimable Butch Harmon supervising her golf game. The next step for Gulbis will be a major championship victory. Dont be surprised if it happens next week at the Womens British at the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Speaking of Europe, Argentinean Andres Romero, who made everybodys jaw drop with an insane 10 birdies in his final round at Carnoustie two Sundays ago, bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on a playoff there by winning the Deutsche Bank Players' Championship in Germany.
Romero has rocketed to No. 29 in the world rankings and No. 13 on the Presidents Cup point standings for the International side.
And lets not forget Tom Watson, who melted down earlier this month in the final round of the U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straits. Sunday at Muirfield, Watson hung on to win his third British Seniors. Those titles will go quite nicely with the five times he won the Claret Jug for capturing the Open Championship.
Furyk, for his part, could be seen methodically climbing up the leaderboard at Angus Glen late Saturday. By the end of the day he had closed to within three shots of 54-hole leader Vijay Singh.
It took him exactly four holes Sunday to wrest the lead all by himself. Birdies on the first and third were followed by an ace on the par-3 fourth. The club was a 5-iron. The distance was 211 yards.
A dream start, really, Furyk said.
At stake: Furyk was gunning to become the first player to successfully defend at the Canadian Open since Jim Ferrier in 1951. Furyk was also looking for his first PGA TOUR victory of the year.
More birdies at 10, 11 and 12 increased Furyks lead at that point to three shots over first-round leader Hunter Mahan.
Singh would eventually rally to capture second. Mahan would drop into a tie for fifth.
And Furyk would move close to 35 million dollars in career earnings.
Perhaps nobody in golf, prior to Sunday, had played so well without a victory. Furyk tied for 13th at the Masters in April; tied for second at the U.S. Open in June; and tied for 12th at the Open Championship earlier this month. Now he ranks second in the world (again) after passing Phil Mickelson Sunday; second on TOUR in driving accuracy; third in scoring; 10th in greens in regulation; and first in top-10s (8).
Seven more wins and one major and we will be touting Furyk for the World Golf Hall of Fame. Those goals are eminently reachable. He is still only 37 years old. Maybe theres even a Ryder Cup captaincy in the grinders future.
Gulbis was more glorious Sunday. Romero was more of a continuing revelation. Watson more nostalgic.
But nobody was more solid than Jim Furyk.
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