KAPALUA, Maui -- The Pittsburgh Steelers beckoned in more ways than one for Jim Furyk, a passionate Steelers fan. When he finished his round Saturday, a 66 that thrust him into contention at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, he heard that the Steelers and Jacksonville were tied early in their AFC playoff game, 7-7, but asked that nothing more be said about it. He was taping the game and was anxious to get back to the television set.
It was a game that apparently he could have seen live, had he not won the Canadian Open last year to earn a trip to Kapalua, where he has a second home. A PGA Tour official said that someone from the office of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin phoned tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to invite Furyk to the game. Furyk, a native of the Pittsburgh area, still knew nothing about the invitation other than what the tour official told him.
"It's flattering," he said. "I guess it's too bad I won last year. I would have enjoyed that immensely. Obviously I'm excited about the game, and living in Jacksonville makes it a little more interesting."
Furyk does not know Tomlin, but has gotten to know members of the Rooney family that owns the Steelers. "The Rooneys support my charity event up in the Philadelphia area," Furyk explained.
Well aware that his round of golf was interfering with his watching the Steelers, he played as though he were in a hurry to finish, which is to say that he took fewer strokes than anyone in the field Saturday to complete his round. He vaulted from a tie for 17th to a tie for third at one point of the third round.
-- John Strege