HOYLAKE, England -- A three-and-a-half week break, a first for Jim Furyk in the middle of summer, obviously agreed with him.
After a closing 67 at Pinehurst No. 2 lifted him into a T-12 finish in the U.S. Open, Furyk escaped to Utah for an extended family vacation, something the Pennsylvania native, used to playing a lot of golf this time of the year, had never done. It wasn’t that he eschewed golf entirely; he practiced sporadically and enjoyed a few rounds with his two children. But the vacation enabled him to recharge his batteries.
The upshot was that Furyk, 44, looked sharp Thursday morning in the opening round of the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, cobbling together a tidy 4-under-par 68. Furyk converted five birdies against one bogey on a benign morning in northwest England.
“I think from a mental standpoint it was [good]. My attitude was positive,” Furyk said in assessing his brief sabbatical. “It just made sense for my family and I. Mentally I’m in a good frame of mind. I felt really good over the ball and had a lot of confidence getting the ball in play.”
Apparently, a combination of wake surfing, fly fishing, bicycling, rafting and riding ATVs does a middle-aged major champion good.
Asked if it was difficult for him to unplug his mind from tournament golf, Furyk just stared and then shook his head. “I don’t pay a lot of attention to it when I’m not playing,” he admitted. “I check the scores to see if one of my buddies was in contention. I sent [Steve] Stricker [who played in the final group Sunday at the John Deere Classic with eventual winner Brian Harman] best wishes on Saturday night.”
Furyk did limber up for Royal Liverpool by joining Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson for a weekend practice round at Gleneagles in Scotland as well as a pre-championship round here. Fortuitously, he also is paired with Watson and Darren Clarke for the opening two rounds. By tomorrow he’ll have spent four out of six days with the five-time British Open winner.
Winner of the 2003 U.S. Open, Furyk wasn’t intent on trying to impress the U.S. captain in practice or in his play Thursday. “At this point I kind of have what I have,” he said.
And, no, after missing the Presidents Cup last year at Muirfield Village GC, he is not extra motivated to make another Ryder Cup team.
“I love the Ryder Cup, I love playing and competing in it. I like the Presidents Cup, as well,” Furyk said. “You start every year with the goal of hoping to be on one of those teams. I don’t need any extra motivation. I want to be on it. It would be really cool to play for Tom Watson, and as it is my favorite event it’s also a little bittersweet to have played eight times and only won twice. Six losses is pretty bitter.”