Furyk: No one should feel sorry for me

By Will GrayJuly 29, 2014, 10:43 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Since the 2010 Tour Championship, Jim Furyk has teed it up in 87 PGA Tour events.

He has 26 top-10 finishes across that span, including six runner-ups, and has made just over $12.5 million.

What he doesn’t have is a win.

It’s been nearly four years since Furyk lifted both the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup trophies in the rain at East Lake, and since then the 44-year-old has discovered a variety of ways to lose a golf tournament.

He has seen heartbreak, like two years ago at Firestone when a double bogey on the 72nd hole handed the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to Keegan Bradley.

“I lost the tournament here to Keegan,” Furyk said Tuesday as if two years has done little to assuage the pain from that particular defeat.

He has been in position to win but simply has been beaten by a better player, like last year at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

“Jason Dufner outplayed me,” he said. “I got no bones with that.”

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Then there are the instances when Furyk’s final-round lead evaporated at the hands of a player who got hot at the right time. It happened last year at the BMW Championship, when Zach Johnson passed him two days after Furyk shot a 59 at Conway Farms. It happened again last week, when Tim Clark snatched the RBC Canadian Open from him with a back-nine 30.

“No one hit it better than me in that tournament, I’ll promise you that,” Furyk said two days after losing to Clark by a shot. “I should have won that tournament, and I did not. My hat’s off to him because he did everything he needed to to win, and I did not.”

Make no mistake, each close call comes with a sizeable consolation prize. Furyk is now over $60 million in career earnings, and trails only Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh on the PGA Tour’s all-time money list. He has clinched another spot on the Ryder Cup team and will represent the U.S. for the ninth straight time.

But watching another player hold a trophy that was nearly his weighs on Furyk, and he admitted as much as he prepares for tournament No. 88 since his last victory.

“Each time I finish second, it definitely is testing my ability to be positive,” he said. “It’s a mental grind, if that makes sense, more than anything.”

Furyk’s current drought, which includes a streak of seven times failing to win after holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead, is yet another example that winning on the PGA Tour isn’t easy, and it’s certainly not as easy as Woods made it look over the last 17 years.

“Great players don’t win all the time,” said Gary Woodland, whose four top-10 finishes this season include a playoff loss at the CIMB Classic. “It’s hard to do. There’s tough competition out here from top to bottom.”

Jordan Spieth broke records when he won at age 19 last summer, but a successful 2014 campaign has yet to include a victory. While his close calls don’t resemble the heartache endured by Furyk, he echoed many of the veteran’s sentiments.

“It’s just like with a round of golf, once you get one to go your way it can open the floodgates,” Spieth said. “It’s tough when you come up short. I don’t care if I’m at a club championship or at a major, I want to win and it stings when you can’t close the deal.”

For Furyk, that sting has been somewhat negated this year by his impending Ryder Cup berth, especially after being left off the Presidents Cup squad at Muirfield Village last fall.

“I start out every year wanting to make the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup team,” Furyk said. “I didn’t know if the last one would be the last, and I’m glad it’s not.”

He also employs the perspective of a man who has been on the PGA Tour for more than two decades.

“I’m not really a ‘feel sorry for me’ type of person,” he said. “I get to do what I love to do for a living. I play a game. I get to make a pretty darn good living doing it.

“I would venture that close to 100 percent of the world’s not going to feel too bad for me, and I don’t think they should.”

Even without a victory, Furyk’s season should be seen as a success. His trio of runner-up finishes include The Players Championship, and he has netted a top-15 in each of the first three majors.

But with each passing week, the burden to re-enter the winner’s circle grows as the memories of his most recent triumph continue to fade.

After another layer of scar tissue was created last week in Canada, will Furyk hesitate the next time he finds himself in contention?

Not exactly.

“What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? I finish second again,” he said. “So it’s not the end of the world. I’ll be firing at the pin again, and I’ll be trying to bury the last hole. It will happen eventually.”

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”