Patient Furyk plots a certain course
BEFORE HE embarked on his second round over the Lake Course here at the Olympic Club, Jim Furyk – champion in 2003, but without a second Major title to his career curriculum vitae – knew that he had to hit the practice putting green. In Thursday’s first round, he’d left an inordinate number of long putts short of the hole. It wasn’t like him. And he needed to rectify it.
All that time spent on the putting green in the company of his caddie Mike ‘Fluff’ Cowan reaped dividends, as Furyk – sticking to a non-aggressive gameplan – claimed the early clubhouse lead in the second round of the 112th US Open.
Furyk shot a 69 to add to his opening 70 to set the target on 139, one-under-par.
As first round leader Michael Thompson capitulated over the early holes of his second round, Furyk – who mixed three birdies with two bogeys – moved into a position of strength.
“I kind of plodded along,” admitted Furyk, summarising succinctly the mentality and patience required of anyone seeking to eke out a score on narrow fairways and small, rock-hard greens.
Furyk’s game plan worked a treat. “I felt better with the putter, gave the ball a little more opportunity to go in,” he said, most notably at the Par 3 third where he rolled in a 45-footer from off the putting surface.
A winner of the championship at Olympia Fields outside of Chicago nine years ago, Furyk heads into the weekend attempting to follow up that lone Major title here at the Olympic Club. A sort of symmetry? Perhaps, but he is now a more experienced player and someone who knows precisely what is demanded of him.
“I realise that, at 42, the windows not wide open anymore (as far as winning more Majors). I have a lot more good years behind me than I probably do ahead of me, but I still feel like I’ve got some game. I’ve got some more tournaments to win. I’ve always said, we’re judged by the number of events we win and by the number of Major championships we win, and it would be a blessing for me to get another Major championship under my belt.”
Of the course, he said: “It’s draining both mentally and physically. You have to be on top of your game the whole time.
“It’s get the ball in the fairway or in a playable spot as best you can, get the ball on the green or in a playable spot as best you can and try to make four. And then theres going to be a few places you can attack, you got to get some wedges in your hand once in a while.
“ Youre going to get some accessible pins and if you can hit a good shot in there you’ll get some opportunities at birdie. But there’s times where I’m in the middle of the fairway with a 7-iron in my hand and I know that 25, 30 feet’s the best can I do and that’s where Im trying to put the ball.
“So I’m just trying to. . . . plod, I think, is a good word. You take what the course gives you and play the best you can from there,” said patient Furyk.