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Furyk Facing the Flipside of Fame

LEMONT, Ill. (AP) -- Jim Furyk used to have order in his life. He'd show up for a tournament later in the day Tuesday, play in a pro-am Wednesday and get ready for Thursday.
In between he'd sign a few autographs and get some practice in. If he went out for dinner with his wife and daughter, a few people might recognize him, but he was generally left alone.
Then he won the U.S. Open.
Now he gets recognized wherever he goes. Even people who don't follow golf know the winner of the U.S. Open. And those perfectly planned days at the course? Forget it. He was so busy at the Buick Classic he didn't even have time to practice.
'I know I'm going to have to leave for the course a little earlier, and I'm going to come home a little later because there's going to be a few extra questions and just a few extra demands on your day,' Furyk said Wednesday. 'It's just a matter of staying patient and realizing you can't rush, can't get anywhere quickly and you go about your own business.
'It's a good problem to have. I'd rather win the U.S. Open, and I'm definitely not complaining. There are more time demands and that's part of it. I'm definitely not complaining about it. I'd love to go win another major and have to worry about it again.'
The British Open is still two weeks away, so Furyk will have to settle for winning the Western Open for now.
Though the U.S. Open was just three weeks ago at nearby Olympia Fields, most of the marquee players are back in Chicago for the 100th Western Open. Six of the top 10 are here, and it was seven until Davis Love III withdrew Monday because of a stiff neck.
After playing at Westchester, where he tied for 22nd, Furyk took last weekend off to recharge. Now he's refreshed, and ready to contend again.
'It was nice to get home last week and get away from golf,' he said. 'I didn't practice that much. I put the clubs away and wanted to get mentally refreshed so I was ready to come out here and wanted to be here and wanted to play golf.'
Woods also is back after a week off, and he'd like nothing more than to end all that 'slump' talk that's been following him. He hasn't won since the Bay Hill Invitational in March, and doesn't own at least one of the four major titles for the first time in four years.
But he's getting a little sick of everyone worrying about his game.
'It's frustrating, because I've got to answer it all the time now,' he said. 'I haven't been playing poorly. Golf is very, very difficult. And to be honest with you, I'm pleased at the way I've been playing. I just need to get a few more putts in the hole and I'll be all right.'
The Western might be just the place for him to do it. Woods has won the tournament twice, and his victory in 1997 was one for the ages. Who can forget the thousands of fans who broke through the ropes to follow him up the 18th fairway?
'As far as a tour event, I think it's one of the best stops and one that every one of us looks forward to,' he said. 'The history behind it and the champions that have won these events make it that much more special.'
The Western is one of Furyk's favorites, too. He played in some Western Amateurs, and has played the Western Open since he turned pro.
After missing the last two years - a wrist injury forced him to withdraw in 2001, and he skipped last year because his daughter was born the week before - he's happy to be back.
'I had a lot of really good finishes here through the late '90s and into 2000 with a lot of top-10s, top-fives. I like the golf course,' he said. 'My game is in OK shape right now. I've got to make a few adjustments and I'll be ready to go hopefully.'
One thing Furyk doesn't have to adjust is his attitude. Some players have said they felt they had something to prove after winning their first major, as if they had to justify their worthiness as a champion.
But Furyk doesn't feel that kind of pressure. No matter how much criticism was leveled at his unorthodox swing, he's always been his own worst critic. He's one of the hardest-working players on the tour, spending hours honing his game.
Winning the U.S. Open simply validated all that effort, not made him think he needed to give more.
'I'm not any different a player than I was three weeks ago,' he said. 'I proved something to myself, and mentally it's a boost to have that confidence knowing that I can accomplish that. But I don't expect any more out of myself now because of it.'
Related Links:
  • Full coverage of the 100th Western Open
  • More PGA Tour Preview Information
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