Furyk's scaled-back schedule paying off
August 07, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- A rested Jim Furyk shot a 5-under 66 in the first round of the PGA Championship and is tied for fourth. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Like Steve Stricker before him, Jim Furyk is finding less just might mean more.
The 44-year-old has trimmed his PGA TOUR schedule this year -- even taking the month between the U.S. Open and The Open Championship off -- and the results to date have been impressive.
Furyk tied for 12th at Pinehurst, then returned from his hiatus to finish fourth at The Open Championship, second at the RBC Canadian and 15th at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. And did we mention that Furyk also had consecutive runner-up finishes at the Wells Fargo Championship and THE PLAYERS earlier this season?
Furyk continued to build on that success Thursday during the first round of the 96th PGA Championship, too. His round of 66 -- that included birdies on his last three holes -- left the veteran one stroke off the lead held by Lee Westwood, Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer.
"I felt like from start to finish, I've had a pretty solid year of golf," Furyk said in what most would term an understatement. "... I'm fresh, mentally feel pretty good out there, and I guess surprisingly after a month off, ... I came out pretty mechanically sound. I hit the ball very, very well at both the British Open and the Canadian Open and really didn't miss a beat."
The winner of the 2003 U.S. Open, Furyk says he first started thinking seriously about rearranging his schedule to stay more mentally fresh in May and June of 2013. He says his father Mike, his only coach, has been trying to get him to play less for about five years. Furyk knows his wife Tabitha would probably agree "but is always supportive no matter what I do," he said.
Furyk, who ranks sixth in the FedExCup, began to seriously consider a change when he went to see Dr. Bob Rotella. In 19 years as a pro, he had never sought the advice of a sports psychologist but Furyk decided he wanted some help priorizing his life outside the game.
"It kind of had to do with managing my time and my life and kind of fitting priorities in, whether it be family, my kids, practice time, golf, business; just trying to manage everything," Furyk said. "I didn't feel like early last year I was doing a good job of that."
Furyk eventually began to feel more comfortable talking with Rotella about his game. The two discussed putting, for example, as Furyk went through a bit of a slump last season.
"And then we started talking about other parts of getting the ball around the hole; about coming so close a few times, the PGA being one of them last year and being disappointed," Furyk said. "He's an easy person to talk to, and I have a hard time usually opening up to people and to strangers. So we're still kind of building and growing in a relationship.
"Definitely his thoughts and ideas have left me at ease on the golf course a little bit more, and in life, and have helped me be more patient this year."
Jim Furyk holes 36-foot birdie putt on No. 9 at PGA Championship