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The Road Back for Furyk Will Be Slow

Cialis Western OpenLEMONT, Ill. -- Last year, all Jim Furyk heard about was his U.S. Open victory. This year, all anyone asks about is his wrist. Furyk is making his return to the regular PGA Tour in the Western Open this week.
He had surgery in March to repair torn cartilage in his left wrist, and didn't play again until the U.S. Open two weeks ago.
'The wrist is feeling fine,' he said Wednesday. 'Eventually I'll get a sign on my bag saying, 'The wrist is fine, thanks for asking.' It's everyone's question and it's understandable. I appreciate everyone being nice about it.'
Furyk came to the Western as something of a conquering hero last year, having won the U.S. Open at nearby Olympia Fields just three weeks earlier. He tied for third, then went on to win the Buick Open, which vaulted him to a career-best third in the world golf rankings. He finished his season with two more top-10 finishes.
But Furyk had started feeling pain in his wrist at last year's British Open. It would go away when he took some time off, but always returned. After the Hawaii swing in January, he got a cortisone shot in hopes that would allow him to keep playing.
By early February, though, he couldn't grip a club.
'It got to the point where I started gripping the club and I couldn't do that anymore,' he said. 'Yeah, I was nervous. You never know what's going to happen. The worst part is not knowing.'
He finally had surgery in March. Furyk said his doctor hoped he'd be playing within three months - he beat that estimate by a week at the U.S. Open - and by six months, would forget he'd even had the injury.
'So we'll see,' Furyk said. 'Time will tell.'
For now, he's working his way back onto the tour gradually. He hopes to take at least one week off between every event he plays and see how the wrist responds.
'I think toward the end of the year, you'll see me hopping into three weeks on, a week or two off, three weeks on and try to get a little rhythm before the end of the year,' he said.
Furyk made the cut in the U.S. Open by a shot, an accomplishment in his first competitive event in almost six months. But he struggled on the weekend - like many did - and tied for 48th at 18 over.
Time on the course is all his game really needs, Furyk said. But he knows better than to push it. Don't expect to see him on the practice range, hitting a couple of hundred balls after he finishes his rounds this week.
'I have to be patient. It's going to take some time to get back to where I was at the end of last year,' he said. 'I have to be very wise about the amount of time I put in right now. I'm very capable of playing 72 holes and finishing the tournament, but not beating balls every day.'
Furyk isn't the only one trying to get his game back to major-winning shape. Tiger Woods arrived at the Western Open having not been a factor in either of the year's first two majors. He hasn't won much on the regular tour either, notching one victory in his first 11 starts.
Then again, Woods heard the same things before last year's Western Open - and promptly went out and shattered a bunch of records on his way to a wire-to-wire win.
'Certainly I'm not playing as well as I know I can,' Woods said. 'I feel like the game is very close to coming together. I know I keep saying that, but I feel in my heart of hearts that it is. I'm close to putting it together.'
This might be the perfect place for him to do it. Woods has always loved the Western, playing it every year but one since he turned pro - he withdrew because of the flu in 2002 - and winning it three times.
He knows the Dubsdread course at Cog Hill Golf Club probably better than anyone but owner Frank Jemsek. Last year, he opened with a 9-under 63 that tied the course and tournament records. His 21-under 267 matched the Western Open record, and he was the Western's first start-to-finish winner since 1993.
And there's no question he feels at home here. A grin spread across his face as he talked about his past trips to Cog Hill, and he didn't get defensive at all when he was asked about the problems with his game.
'Everybody goes through highs and lows in their career. Everyone,' he said. 'It goes in waves. You don't want to do that, trust me. But it happens.'
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