Furyk finds recipe for success in life changes
May 09, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Jim Furyk is well inside the top 10 at TPC Sawgrass after 36 holes. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- It was 19 years ago, but Jim Furyk still remembers the day vividly.
It was his second year on TOUR and Furyk had just shot a 67 that put him in contention at the Shell Houston Open. Among the players tied with Furyk was veteran Wayne Levi, who was 43 at the time and clearly, shall we say, burned out after his round.
"(Wayne) was just saying it's a job, it's what I do for a living, it's my occupation," Furyk recalled. The game simply wasn't fun anymore for Levi anymore.
Furyk, on the other hand, was ready for anything. His biggest challenge, in fact, was making himself actually throttle back and take a week off. He couldn't be sharp 35 weeks a year even if he wanted to try.
"I was thinking this is the greatest job going," Furyk said, smiling at the memory and shaking his head. "I was thinking, man, just shoot me if I ever get to the point where it becomes a job. I might as well quit."
Ironically, Furyk, who is tied for fourth at THE PLAYERS Championship, got to that point last year. It was about a month before his own 43rd birthday.
Furyk had just closed with a 78 on the way to a distant tie for 42nd at the RBC Heritage. But it wasn't the score that perturbed the ageless veteran, who had won the FedExCup just three years earlier. He'd shot 66 the previous day, for goodness sakes.
The son of a PGA professional, Furyk had played golf his whole life because he loved the game. In a way, though, he found himself starting to resent the time the game took away from his wife Tabitha and two children.
Jim Furyk interview after Round 2 of THE PLAYERS
It seemed like every week there was a baseball game he missed. Lacrosse matches, too. For other TOUR fathers as their children grow up, it might be piano recitals or gymnastics events, but the dilemma is the same.
"I was getting in the car going to work rather than getting in the car going to play a golf tournament," Furyk said. "I just had to kind of reorganize things and fix things, figure out things a little bit."
So a la Steve Stricker, Furyk decided to cut back on his schedule, starting with the following week's Wells Fargo Championship, a tournament he'd won in 2006. He missed the cut at THE PLAYERS the next week, too, but by the time the summer heated up, Furyk was having fun again. He liked the turn his life had taken.
"A lot of that was I was just burned out, I was tired, and I was kind of miserable on the golf course, and I didn't want to be that person," Furyk said. "I didn't play well here, but the idea was I was going to change my attitude and get back to having fun and playing golf like I was a kid again and enjoying it."
And it showed. Furyk finished in the top 10 in five of his last seven events. He even shot the sixth 59 in PGA TOUR history in the second round of the BMW Championship.
A four-month break also contributed to Furyk's more positive outlook on life. His first start of the 2013-14 wrap-around PGA TOUR season came at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February. Three of Furyk's four top-10s this year have come in his last four starts, including solo second last week at Quail Hollow.
The balance Furyk has found in his life has been key.
"When I was 22 golf was pretty much the most important thing in my life, and now that I'm going to be 44 soon, it's really not up there in the top three if that makes sense," Furyk said. "It's important to me, but my wife and my kids and my family and other things come first. ...
"So being able to figure out how to manage all that and still go out and be competitive and play well was what I was kind of really struggling with. Right now I've got a nice recipe, and it's not always going to be that way, but I feel like my attitude has bred my good play."