2004: U.S. Open - Mending Furyk ‘staying patient’

U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, who underwent surgery March 22 to repair cartilage damage in his left wrist, said he’ll likely make his return to the PGA Tour at the July 1-4 Western Open. Barring a setback, the latest return would be at the July 15-18 British Open.

That means he would miss defending his national title June 17-20 at Shinnecock Hills. However, in early June, Furyk was still holding a “10 percent” hope that he could tee off in the Open two weeks later.

He also was weighing an offer from ESPN to serve as a booth analyst for the Open’s first two rounds. Because he’s close to returning to action, he was concerned that committing to television might push back his timetable.

Furyk has been working with a Jacksonville, Fla., hand specialist 3-4 days per week and has been rehabilitating at home daily. He began chipping and putting the second week of May, then started hitting balls in late May, going three days on and one day off. He worked his way up through the bag, from sand wedge to driver, and went on the course for the first time May 30 to play four holes.

He said he has watched little golf, except for the Masters, while spending time at his Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., home with his wife and two young children.

“I’m staying patient and having a good time with my family,” Furyk said. “It’s a little strange, because I am looking forward to getting back. But I’ve accepted it for now. I want to be 100 percent healthy before I come back. I know I’ll be rusty. I’ve only played two events since December. I can’t push too hard. It will come back. I feel my game will come back.”

Furyk had simple motivation to try to get ready in time to defend the title he won last year at Olympia Fields. It has to do with the first tee.

“I had about 15 starts after the U.S. Open last year, when they introduced me as the U.S. Open champion, and I felt that the most special time would be on Thursday of the U.S. Open this year,” Furyk said. “I am not going to say I won’t be there, but it does not look like it will be possible.

“I’ll miss it. But I’ll still have my name on that trophy. It’s been engraved and no one’s going to take it off.”

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