Why Jim Furyk got riled up at U.S. Senior Open

Jim Furyk at the U.S. Senior Open at Saucon Valley last week.

Steven Gibbons/USGA

Jim Furyk hasn’t been playing his best golf in 2022, with just a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour Champions, back in January, and two missed-cuts in three attempts on the PGA Tour. Still, if you were piecing together a fantasy lineup for the U.S. Senior Open, at Saucon Valley, last week — which ultimately was won by Padraig Harrington — Furyk would have been a sensible pick.

First, there’s his style of play: Furyk is a fairways-and-greens guy and a hard-nosed grinder, two qualities that go a long way on exacting U.S. Open setups. Second, there’s his U.S. Open record: seven top-5s in the U.S. Open (young-guy edition), including a win in 2003, plus another win, just a year ago, in his U.S. Senior Open debut, which made Furyk just the eighth player to have won both the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open.

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Finally, last week’s event, in Bethlehem, Pa., was a bit of a homecoming for Furyk, who grew up in West Chester, about 75 miles south. Even “Furyk’s Fanatics” came out to support him, clad in blue shirts with a “58” on the back of them, signifying Furyk’s record-setting scoring mark in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship.

Alas, Furyk was unable to capitalize on his home-field advantage, which isn’t to say he didn’t put up a fight.

After making the cut on the number, Furyk, in the first pairing out on a Saturday, fired a cool third-round 66 that gave him a glimmer of hope for Sunday. But then, in the final round, Furyk’s form deserted him again, in particular on the greens.

“I putted beautifully yesterday and putted awful today,” he said after signing for a Sunday 75 that dropped him to four over for the week, in a tie for 25th. “It’s just been kind of an up-and-down season, and this week was very indicative of kind of how it’s been.”

A reporter then told Furyk that two weeks earlier Furyk had had “a very solid week” at the U.S. Open, at The Country Club, in Brookline, Mass., shooting rounds of 74-70 to miss the cut by just one.

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“Did that make you think you were going to have a pretty good week here coming in?” the reporter said.

Furyk didn’t view his week in Boston through such a rosy lens.

“The two weeks prior, the two months prior, nothing’s really been that good,” he said. “So I’m kind of still climbing up the mountain right now. When I miss a cut and you call it a solid week, I’ll be honest, it kind of pisses me off. Get that one on tape.”

“You missed it by one,” the reporter said, presumably trying to make Furyk feel better about his effort in difficult conditions against the world’s best players.

“Well,” Furyk replied, “when I start missing cuts and that’s solid, I’m going to quit.”

You have to love Furyk’s fire. That drive and unwillingness to settle have been a key part of his m.o. since he joined the PGA Tour in 1994 and went on to rack up 17 PGA Tour titles. Now, nearly three decades later, Furyk still has high expectations of himself, meaning you’d be a fool to sell him short on the Champions circuit. Heck, on the right kind of setup, he could still be a threat on the PGA Tour, too.

Earlier in the week at Saucon Valley, Furyk had been asked if he’d seen any improvement in his game in recent weeks.

“I’ve been working hard on it and I feel like I’m making some headway,” he said. “But definitely you can jump off the cliff and you get to the bottom a lot quicker than you can climb back up to the top, but right now I’m working on that climb.”

Don’t bet against him reaching the summit again.

alan bastable

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.