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Jim Furyk finds form, shares lead after first round of PGA

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Updated: August 8, 2013 8:59PM



PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Poor Jim Furyk. He shoots a 5-under-par 65 — one shot short of the course record at Oak Hill — to tie reigning Masters champion Adam Scott for the first-round lead Thursday at the PGA, and all the media questions are about his recent struggles.

He dutifully talks about how he has worked on his driver, his putter and his inconsistency, about how he never worried about not regaining his marvelous putting touch.

It was good stuff from a good guy. But having been at Olympic Club when Furyk had the 2012 U.S. Open in the palm of his hand, I wanted more insight from an insightful golfer. So I asked him whether he felt like he had let one get away then and whether he wondered if he would have another chance to win a major.

‘‘I’m on a nice little high, but y’all are trying to bring me down,’’ he said with a bit of a smile. ‘‘Damn. No wonder you guys are on that side. You have bad thoughts too often.’’

It’s not so much bad thoughts as curiosity. Things like, ‘‘Why does a guy from Pennsylvania say, ‘Y’all’?’’

I remember feeling bad for Furyk in San Francisco. I like to see players win tournaments, not lose them. And a couple of tough holes — uncharacteristic for the steady Furyk — opened the door for Webb Simpson that day.

If I felt bad for him, how the heck did he handle it?

‘‘I forget the question because I already was thinking about how I wanted to answer it sarcastically,’’ Furyk said. ‘‘Did I feel like I let one get away? Yeah, I guess. I look back to the ’98 Masters, ’98 Birkdale, U.S. Open at Winged Foot, the U.S. Open at Oakmont, the U.S. Open at Olympic. There were opportunities there.’’

Olympic Club was especially wrenching, though, because it was legitimate to wonder whether Furyk, 43, would have another chance. In five majors since then, he hasn’t finished higher than 25th and missed the cut at the U.S. and British opens this year.

In a candid media session right after his loss at Olympic Club, Furyk — who won the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields — acknowledged the clock was ticking, saying: ‘‘Two years ago, I was the Player of the Year. All of a sudden, I’m middle‑aged. That [ticks] me off. I think I have a few more good years.’’

Furyk’s meltdown at Olympic Club was hard to watch because he’s a guy we root for, an intelligent guy with a loopy swing who has shown he’s capable of battling with anyone, as he proved again Thursday.

He is also a guy who can tell us about getting back on the horse.

‘‘Yeah, it’s disappointing, but this sport beats you up,’’ he said. ‘‘You’re going to have your good moments and your bad ones. I’ve always been very good at looking at the situation and figuring out how I could have made it better.’’

He showed that by shooting 65 at Oak Hill. So let’s not feel too sorry for Furyk. He can handle things.

Email: hgould@suntimes.com

Twitter: @herbgould



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