Do majors make the man?

For Jim Furyk, there's more to the game

Posted: April 05, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga. - He's the second-ranked player on the planet. Which, in this era, is about as high as anyone not named after an animal can really hope to aspire.

Jim Furyk has won 12 times on the PGA Tour, including a U.S. Open in 2003. He has a funky swing, and that's being kind, but it works for him. He comes to the first major of the year as one of the favorites, even though he only has three top 10s in 10 Masters. At 36, he's nothing if not solid.

Still, has any No. 2 ever flown this far under the radar? Not that he really seems to mind. He's not a power hitter, which supposedly diminishes his chances here. But he did nearly win a second U.S. Open last June, then posted a fourth-place finish a month later at the British Open.

For the guy who used to be the best player who had never won a major, those were his best finishes in a major since 2003. A wrist injury had something to do with that. But it wouldn't shock anyone if he had another one or two big-boy trophies in him.

"I'm obviously rooting for firm, fast conditions," Furyk said. "There's always a chance for a good player that's not long to win the tournament. It can be done. The odds are [against you], but it's not impossible.

"In this sport, you're never going to be on top of the world for long, long periods of time. You kind of borrow it for a while, and you're going to [experience] a lot of defeat. If I could go out there and win two tournaments a year for 10 years in a row, you'd be a superstar. But you have to lose a lot, and you're going to have a lot of near misses. It's a humbling game. You learn a lot about yourself along the way, the way you deal with that. But I think that also makes the victories that much more special."

So what if nobody's proclaiming him as Tiger's next big rival? Who needs all the stuff that goes with celebrity status anyway?

"Right now, I don't know the exact numbers, but I want to say he has twice as many points as I do, more than twice as many," Furyk noted, with a smile. "I would willingly beg you to pick somebody else and please leave me alone, let me do what I want to do.

"I don't mind the attention. But I'm just fine and dandy going to a restaurant with my family and sitting down to a nice quiet dinner and enjoying it just as well. I think I get plenty of credit. I'm not jealous of any of the due that anyone else in the golf world gets.

"If for some reason, if you're saying do I feel a little underrated, I'm comfortable with who I am and what I'm trying to accomplish. I really don't worry about the rest of it. That's as sincere as I could be. It just doesn't matter."

That's his story and he's sticking to it. At least until he's added another title that makes people notice to his resumé. *

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