GUYANCOURT, France – Jim Furyk will hit a handful of golf shots on Tuesday, which normally wouldn’t make headlines. But these shots will be noteworthy for two distinct reasons:
One, he’ll be hitting them from a stage perched within one of the world’s most renowned landmarks, the Eiffel Tower in Paris; and two, outside of a soft flip wedge he tried on Monday at Le Golf National, site of the 2018 Ryder Cup, Furyk hasn’t hit a shot since the PGA Championship in August.
Furyk, 47, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, is in France this week along with a PGA of America contingent celebrating the one-year-out mark for next autumn’s Ryder Cup. On Monday, he visited a local school, captained a team of French youths in a five-hole challenge against European counterpart Thomas Bjorn at Le National, and attended a gala in Versailles. Tuesday he’ll be in Paris, attending a scheduled breakfast at the home of French president Emannual Macron before joining Bjorn in hitting shots off the Eiffel Tower shortly before mid-day.
The last – and only – golfer to perform that feat? The late Arnold Palmer, who hit a shot from the Eiffel Tower nearly 40 years ago to the day, in October, 1977.
“To have Mr. Palmer hit the one and only shot off the Eiffel Tower, it’s an honor for Thomas and I to remake and repeat that shot,” Furyk said Monday. “I can’t imagine what has to go in to creating the ‘tee box’ and what has to happen in the city to kind of shut that area down and allow us to hit shots. I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s a highlight.”
Furyk injured his left shoulder at the U.S. Open in June hitting a shot from the heavy rough at Erin Hills, and said the injury has climbed down his collarbone and into his sternoclavicular joint, or SC joint, closer to his sternum. He said he has been doing lots of rehab, trying to strengthen his back in order to take some pressure of the joint.
A 17-time winner on the PGA Tour, Furyk usually takes time off this time of year, and said he may not make his next PGA Tour start until Pebble Beach in early 2018.
“I dinged myself up at the U.S. Open in some heavy rough, in that hay,” he said, “and I was never really right for the rest of the year.”
Furyk played on nine U.S. Ryder Cup teams, and this will be his first go-around at being a captain. He was an assistant to Davis Love III last fall when the Americans beat Europe at Hazeltine, in Minneapolis. On his phone early Monday, he checked out social media to see what had been posted after he and Bjorn visited a local school near Le Golf National. And, no surprise, the first thing Furyk ran into was video images of Tiger Woods swinging a driver back home in Florida.
Woods missed most of 2017 due to injury and hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2013. A reporter from Sky TV asked Furyk if it’s possible Woods could be on his Ryder Cup team as a player when he returns to France next fall.
“Surely it will be difficult, because he’s been out so long,” Furyk said. “He’s not 100 percent right now … Then again, it’s Tiger Woods. When we doubted him in the past, he’s always proven us wrong.
“So I wouldn’t put anything past him.”