In year full of near-misses, Furyk keeps on battling

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Jim Furyk double-bogeyed the final hole of the Bridgestone Invitational to lose by a stroke.
October 17, 2012
Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- It was a painful sight: Jim Furyk hunched over in disbelief. Disgust, really.

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Perhaps it is an image that will stick in the minds of many golf fans when recalling portions of the 2012 PGA TOUR season. And yes, Furyk saw plenty of disappointment.

But there's another image from Furyk in 2012, one that will stick with me.

It was the fact that Furyk came back each time, splitting fairways, burying birdies and scoring as strong as ever.

"We can all relate to it," said PGA TOUR veteran Jerry Kelly, who, along with Furyk, is in the field at this week's McGladrey Classic. "The game is 98, 99 percent failure. It's all about coming back and how good you are at coming back. Some guys aren't good at it. It takes some serious will is what it takes."

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Furyk, 42, certainly has some serious will -- something he will undoubtedly put on display again this week at Sea Island Golf Club, where he will play his first tournament since the U.S. lost the Ryder Cup on a forgettable -- no, unforgettable -- Sunday evening at Medinah.

Will is something Furyk may not have been born with, but it was certainly honed -- along with his swing and short game -- at a young age.

"The game beats you up and you learn humility through golf," Furyk said. "Both my parents were hard workers. And they never really got down and felt sorry for themselves. They just worked harder.

"It's also about perspective. Having a family, you realize what's important in life. Anytime you feel bad about what's happening in golf you can look around and it's kind of miniscule compared to the different problems going on in the world. That doesn't make it sting any less. But it puts things in perspective. It really is just a white golf ball. It really is just a sport. Most people play it for recreation. There are a lot worse things that could happen."

The worst for Furyk this season -- with perspective in mind, of course -- began at the Transitions Championship, where he lost in a four-man playoff to Luke Donald despite playing his heart out.

Then came the devastating defeat at the U.S. Open, where he was tied for the lead after 36, 54 and 69 holes. Standing on the 16th tee at The Olympic Club, Furyk pulled his tee shot, costing him a bogey 6 and eventually the tournament, won by Webb Simpson.

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"That was my fault," Furyk said.

At the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Furyk, attempting to win wire-to-wire, double-bogeyed the 72nd hole from the fairway and lost to a fired-up Keegan Bradley.

Certainly, you notice a trend. From this vantage point, it's that Furyk just kept coming back.

Furyk finished strong in the FedExCup Playoffs, finishing tied for 13th, ninth and seventh in the last three events. He entered the Ryder Cup -- one of four Captain's picks by Davis Love III -- with confidence. He went 1-1 with teammate Brandt Snedeker before losing 1 up to Sergio Garcia in Sunday Singles.

Making things even more painful was that Furyk held a 1 up advantage through 16 holes, but couldn't get up-and-down from the greenside bunker at the 17th. He lost when his 8-footer for par slid past at the 18th.

"Just like the Ryder Cup or just like him at the U. S. Open, you don't get to enjoy the good times unless you screw it up every once in awhile in front of everybody," said Love, the tournament host this week. "Everybody that's a great basketball player or football player, hockey player, they miss a free throw in a big game, you know, but you gotta miss a few in the big game to hit the winning shot in a big game, too. And Jim loves being there and I think he'll continue to be there for quite a while."

And it's not like Furyk had a bad season. He hit plenty of big shots -- just never the winning one.

The 16-time PGA TOUR winner has accumulated seven top-10s in 23 events. He's finished second twice, and fourth twice. That's probably not considered a glowing season in Furyk's eyes, especially when comparing it to 2010 when he had a trio of victories -- including the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola to win the FedExCup.

But there's only so many times a player of his caliber can put himself in contention and not slam home the winner.

With the season two events from completion, Furyk ranks fourth in driving accuracy, third in scrambling and second in sand play. Those just so happen to be the type of stats that often translate into success on the 7,005-yard Seaside Course, where Furyk tied for 11th last year.

"We love that he's playing here," Love said. "I have a feeling he'll bounce back from the Ryder Cup just like he did everything else."

And what an image that would be.

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