Jim Furyk rewrites the Sunday script and burnishes Hall of Fame credentials
It has been exhausting, sans a shot of 5-Hour Energy for which he used to shill relentlessly, watching Jim Furyk in recent years. Too often he reminded us how good he is, not how great he is.
He had become a productive worker who took Sundays off, a schedule that works in other industries, but not in this one. Since his last win, in the 2010 Tour Championship, he was 0 for 9 in converting 54-hole leads into victories.
"We all expect a lot of ourselves and we all put pressure on ourselves on Sunday," he said a few months ago, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, from which one of those nine came. "But I think that the way maybe I was doing it in the past was a little counterproductive at times."
So on this Sunday, he threw out the script. This time, he started in arrears, four behind, made 11 birdies in 20 holes, the latter two in a playoff with Ken Kisner, and won for the first time in more than four years.
Yes, Furyk is great, according to golf's shifting metrics. There was a time that 20 victories, one of them a major, was an unofficial benchmark for inclusion in the World Golf Hall of Fame. But when Fred Couples was given to the key to the Hall on the basis of 15 victories, one a major, well, the bar had been lowered.
The old metric is not unattainable for Furyk, but in the meantime he already is two victories clear of Couples. This was his 17th win, one of which was the U.S. Open in 2003, and enshrinement is but a formality for this fixture in the top 10 in the World Ranking. Tenth in the world entering the RBC Heritage, he has spent more than seven years of weeks residing in the top 10.
It was his second victory in the RBC Heritage, on a Harbour Town Golf Links that fits his game, given its emphasis on precision over power. "If it's long and open and there's not a lot of rough and there's no penalty for hitting it crooked, you can bomb it, find it, hit it again," he said earlier this year. "That obviously doesn't do me any good. I'm looking more at the shot value than the length, if that makes sense."
A hot putter is capable of rendering courses defenseless whatever their length, and Furyk was wielding one on Sunday. In the playoff, he holed a seven-foot birdie putt to continue the playoff, then holed a 12-footer to win.
Furyk then dropped his putter, pumped his fist and hugged his caddie, Mike Cowan, Fluff as he's known, who on Twitter refers to his boss as the player.
The player who on this day burnished his Hall of Fame credentials.