Unlike another 48-year-old, Jim Furyk avoids disaster to enter U.S. Open mix

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Unlike another 48-year-old, Jim Furyk avoids disaster to enter U.S. Open mix

PGA Tour

Unlike another 48-year-old, Jim Furyk avoids disaster to enter U.S. Open mix

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – On a U.S. Open Saturday when one 48-year-old sparked controversy by intentionally hitting a moving ball on the green and receiving a two-shot penalty, another kept his emotions in check and carded one of the rounds of the day on a brutally tough – and at times arguably unplayable – Shinnecock Hills layout.

Jim Furyk’s 2-over 72 was downright impressive – for a player of any age. The U.S. Ryder Cup captain teed off at 1:53 p.m. alongside Alex Noren. More than four-and-a-half hours later, Furyk had managed to make just four bogeys – he got two birdies to drop, too – while Noren shot 77.

The seven groups after Furyk and Noren? Those players, including 36-hole leader Dustin Johnson (77), combined to shoot 93 over.

“The golf course transformed today from hole 1 to hole 18,” Furyk said. “It was a different golf course on the back nine and really just became kind of a who could survive and get through the day.”

If anyone had questioned whether Furyk was deserving of the special exemption he received from the USGA this year, he answered those concerns emphatically.

The 2003 U.S. Open champion, one of two players along with Ernie Els to get special invites to Shinnecock Hills, hit seven of 18 greens in Round 3, which could’ve spelled disaster. But he missed only one fairway as winds whipped up above 20 mph and needed just 27 putts on lightning-fast greens to keep the wheels on his round.

Most striking, however, was Furyk’s demeanor.

“I’ve just done a really good job this week of really not letting much bother me, not getting emotional on the golf course, not getting upset with myself and just accepting the mistakes because you’re going to make them here,” Furyk said. “… Ninety percent of the guys leave here realizing that, you know, they let it bother them and let it get to them, and, you know, so far my game – I’ve hit enough fairways, and I’ve kept the ball in play and got it around good enough to score.”

During the third round of last year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills, Furyk hit a ball from thick rough on the 14th hole and injured his left sternoclavicular joint. He tied for 23rd that week and played through the pain for four more events. He decided to shut it down after missing the cut at the PGA Championship in August and didn’t touch a club again until January.

Furyk returned to action at the Genesis Open in February and missed the cut. He has made five of seven weekends since with a best finish of seventh at the Valspar Championship.

It hasn’t been a great year for the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but he turned a corner in practice last week. It showed Saturday.

“He’s getting back,” said Furyk’s caddie, Mike “Fluff” Cowan. “Do I think he’s 100 percent? I don’t know. But he’s doing fine.”

Fine might be an understatement.

“It was great to wake up this morning and kind of be like, you know, I’ve got a 1:53 tee time,” Furyk said. “That’s pretty cool on a weekend. Haven’t been able to do it in a while. So I’ll get that same opportunity tomorrow and looking forward to some rest and waking up with the juices flowing, being nervous again and having an opportunity.”

Jim Furyk, at 48 years old, is three shots off the lead entering Sunday of the U.S. Open.

Let that sink in.

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