Furyk wants to put 2012 behind him

By John FeinsteinJune 11, 2013, 12:39 pm

Jim Furyk sat in a corner of the locker room at TPC Sawgrass on a May afternoon a couple of hours after shooting an even-par round of 72 to open The Players Championship. Furyk treasures routine, and this steamy Thursday had been no different than most days in his 20-year career on the PGA Tour. He had played 18 holes, grinding on every shot, signed his scorecard and gone inside to cool off and get something to eat.

Then, he and his dad headed for the range, just as they have done thousands of times since Jim’s boyhood to see if there was something that could be tweaked to make his game just a little better.

“We hit a lot of drivers,” Furyk said, pausing to sip from a bottle of water. “It’s the oldest golfer’s lament there is, I guess, but I don’t feel like I’m that far away. A tweak here, a tweak there and I can be close to where I want to be.”

U.S. Open: Articles, videos and photos

He leaned back in his chair and smiled.

“So, what’s up?” he asked.

I had asked Furyk if he had some free time and he had suggested we meet in the locker room at 4 o’clock. He was two minutes late – unusual for him – which is early for most athletes. My all-time record is Kevin Mitchell, the baseball player, who strolled into the Seattle Mariners' locker room at 5:15 for a 2 o’clock meeting and said, “I’ve only got about 10 minutes.” I will not repeat what I told him he could do with his 10 minutes.

Furyk is the anti-Kevin Mitchell, not only always punctual when he says he’ll be somewhere, but always patient and generous with his time.

So, when he asked, ‘what’s up,’ I answered directly:

“I want to talk about last year.”

Furyk’s smile disappeared. He swigged the water again and shook his head in a way that made me think he was going to say, “I’m done with that.” I wouldn’t have blamed him. I almost felt guilty about asking but believed it was worth it because Furyk is one of golf’s most thoughtful people. And I had no doubt he had thought about 2012 a lot.

By almost any standard, 2012 was a great year for Furyk. He had bounced back from what had been a terrible year for him in 2011. After winning three times in 2010 and being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year at age 40, he had dropped to 54th place on the money list and never finished higher than sixth all year. During one stretch he missed four straight cuts – unheard of for him.

In 2012, he had seven top-10s and two 11th-place finishes. He more than doubled his money, winning more than $3.6 million to finish 12th on the money list. He lost a playoff in Tampa; almost won the U.S. Open; should have won in Akron and made the Ryder Cup team – his eighth straight.

And yet, when the subject of that year came up, he visibly sagged in his seat.

“You know I’ve always taken the approach that you talk about your successes and you talk about your failures,” he said, speaking slowly, choosing his words every bit as carefully as he chooses a club on the golf course. “I don’t think I’ve ever been one to duck people.'

Furyk’s year was marked by three extraordinarily painful near-misses. His loss in a four-way playoff to Luke Donald in Tampa didn’t really bother him because he played well, birdied the 18th to get into the playoff, and felt as if the work he had done during the offseason was going to pay off before the year was over.

It did – sort of – but not in the way he would have liked. He was tied for the lead at the U.S. Open at Olympic with two par 5s to play on Sunday. But he hit  arguably one of the worst shots of his career, a disastrous snap-hooked 3-wood off the 16th tee and ended up making bogey. Another bogey at 18 – needing a birdie to tie Webb Simpson – led to a tie for fourth.

“I’ve never been bothered that much by physical mistakes,” Furyk said. “We all make them. I have a 7-iron to the green from the middle of the fairway and I make a bad swing and put it in a bunker I’m not happy but I know it happens. Mental mistakes bother me – they stay with me. To me, those are avoidable. They shouldn’t happen.

“What happened at 16 at Olympic was a mental mistake that led to a really bad physical mistake,” he said. “I guess it’s fair to say that I got freaked out by where they’d put the tee. I just couldn’t make myself commit to the shot I needed to hit.”

The tee at 16 was part of Mike Davis’ U.S. Open set-up philosophy. Davis likes to create at least one shot a day during the Open that forces players to think outside the box. Moving the tee box up 101 yards on 16 was his Sunday outside-the-box move at the Open. Like a lot of players, Furyk doesn’t like to be forced out of his comfort zone.

“It’s one thing to say you have three tee boxes on a hole,” Furyk said. “It’s another to move the tee up 100 yards. I talked to Mike about it afterwards and he explained his thinking to me. It comes down to the philosophy of a player versus the philosophy of a guy setting up the course. There’s no right and wrong involved.

“Bottom line is everyone in the field played the hole from there that day and I handled it worse than just about anyone.”

Furyk badly wants to win another major – and would especially like to repeat his 2003 Open victory at Olympia Fields. He was close at Winged Foot in ’06; close at Oakmont in ’07 and painfully close again in ’12. He’s well aware of the fact that another major win would virtually clinch a spot for him in the Hall of Fame. He has one major win; 16 wins on Tour in all and all those Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup appearances (15 in all). A second major would remove any lingering doubt.

“I try not to think about it (the Hall of Fame) because I still think I have a few more years of playing well enough that I’m not ready to start looking back yet,” he said. “But it comes up enough that I can’t help but think about it at times.” He smiled. “I didn’t lose the Open because I was thinking, ‘this will get me in the Hall of Fame.’ That’s one thing I can tell you for sure.”

He lost at Akron in early August because he badly chopped up the 18th hole on Sunday, making a double-bogey 6 to turn a one-shot lead over Keegan Bradley into a one-shot loss.

“That one hurt because I should have won the tournament,” he said. “I played beautifully almost the entire week. I could have won the Open; I should have won Akron. The worst shot I hit (on 18) was my third because I rushed through my routine, probably because I was upset with the first two shots. Again, a mental mistake. And then I let that lead to hitting a bad putt (from 5 feet) for bogey.

“That made me angry – very angry – with myself. It just shouldn’t have happened. It was my tournament to win and I gave it away. I’ve won 16 times in 20 years out here and I’ve been a pretty good player the whole time. What that means is when you get a chance to win, you better take it because it doesn’t happen all that often.” He smiled for a second. “Unless you’re Tiger Woods.”

The most painful loss for Furyk may have been the one at Medinah, when the U.S. blew a 10-6 lead to Europe on Sunday. Playing in the eighth singles match against Sergio Garcia (whom he had beaten in singles in 1999 when the Americans rallied from 10-6 down to win) Furyk was 1 up through 16 holes and it easily could have been 2 up. Garcia made a tough up-and-down from a bunker at 16 while Furyk missed a 15-foot birdie putt he thought was going in the hole.

Furyk then missed both the 17th and 18th greens and couldn’t make par-saving putts on either hole. Garcia parred them both to win, 1 up. Furyk readily admits that the 7-foot putt he missed on 18 was one of the most painful moments of his career.

“Believe me, I knew what was at stake,” he said. “I could see the scoreboards and I knew that half-point could easily be the difference at that stage. I read the putt right, I hit it well. It just didn’t go in.”

During the U.S. team’s postmatch news conference, someone asked Furyk if losing as part of a team was more painful or less painful than losing in an individual event. It was a rare moment when Furyk lost a little bit of composure.

“Obviously you’ve never been a competitor or you wouldn’t ask that question,” Furyk said. Then he recovered and said the Ryder Cup was a team event, which meant he knew he had 11 players, his captain and his assistant captains behind him – win or lose.

“It wasn’t so much the question as the tone of the question,” Furyk said, months later, readily conceding that he lost his cool. “It came across as condescending. I didn’t know the guy. Maybe if it was someone I knew, I’d have taken a deep breath before I said anything. But it wasn’t.”

Furyk had been talking for more than an hour. He hadn’t snapped at any question and, as always, answered thoughtfully and in detail. “One reason I’m looking forward to the Open is that maybe I can put last year behind me once and for all once we get there.”

I reminded him he would undoubtedly be asked questions about Olympic before teeing it up at Merion.

“Yeah, I know,” he said with a sigh. “I’ll deal with it.”

Furyk has always dealt with it – the good and the bad.

“I’m 43,” he said. “Next year, I’m going to cut my schedule back. It’s just time. I want to focus on playing places I like to play and where I think I can win. I’m not going to do a full Stricker (as in cut back to a dozen events a la Steve Stricker) but I won’t play 25 anymore. The important thing is I believe I’m going to win more golf tournaments.

“In 2010 I had three good chances to win and won all three times. Last year, I probably had more chances to win but didn’t get it done. All I want is more chances to win. I believe next time I get the chance, I’ll finish the job.”

Getty Images

M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

Getty Images

Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

Getty Images

Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

Getty Images

Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.