by Jeff Skinner
Sometimes it’s not about the winner. Today was one of those days. Yes, Keegan Bradley played superb golf to come from behind to win the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and he deserves all the accolades but sometimes it is not about the winner.
Sometimes it’s about the loser. It’s tough to call Jim Furyk the loser but that’s the way it is in golf. There’s only one winner and the rest, no matter where you place are classified as losers.
This one was shaping to be Jim Furyk’s tournament, this was to be a mini-comeback of sorts, a comeback from a U.S. Open failure and a month of poor play. He had set himself up well over the first three days and teed off with a one stroke lead. Three opening birdies were further proof that Furyk was ready to become a ‘winner’ again.
But a few missed putts, a poor drive on eighteen followed by a worse approach put him in a freefall he couldn’t escape. He left his (3rd) chip shot short in the rough and flubbed his (4th) chip shot. Then he needed to sink his five footer for bogey to save a playoff but he was spent, spinning out of control and he hit what he called the “worst putt of the week” and his double bogey on the last cost him his comeback victory. He finished tied for second. And second at a WGC isn’t bad. It brings a bunch of FedEx Cup and World Ranking points and $665,000 dollars.
That pushed Furyk’s career earnings to over $52 million dollars and the points moved him to eleventh on the Ryder Cup points list. But that wasn’t what Jim needed.
He needed this one to dispel any doubts that he still has it. He needed this one to quiet the critics that say his 42 year old hands aren’t as steady as they were. He needed this one to earn a slot on the Ryder Cup and not need a Captain’s pick. He needed one this to wipe out the bad taste of a month of shoddy play and a second U.S. Open that slipped through those hands. He needed this one, he wanted this one. He may have wanted it too much.
Afterwards he said he was in shock but still displayed the class we have come to know from Furyk. He gave Bradley credit but this one hurts. “Keegan played a heck of a back nine…he did everything he needed to do to win the golf tournament. I felt like I did the same until the 18th hole. …
“But I think right now just a little bit in shock with the way I finished up. I turned a 5 into a 6 and lost the golf tournament on the last hole. There’s no way I should have made double bogey.”
“I’ve known it’s a cruel game for a long time,” Furyk said. “… I go back to the U.S. Open and the chances I had there, coming in tied with three holes to play, and played poorly the last three holes. And here, I led the golf tournament the entire way and lost it on the very last hole. To get that close and to know that I played more than good enough to win the golf tournament and not close the door is disappointing.
“… I’ve lost some tournaments in some pretty poor fashions, but I don’t think I’ve let one ever slip nearly as bad as this one. This was my worst effort to finish off an event.”
Furyk was asked to put his feelings into words the average man could relate to.
“I think they realize when something happens in your life that you’re working so hard, you’re trying too hard, you’re pushing too hard, you’ve worked so hard for, I have no one to blame but myself, but when things go wrong, it’s an empty feeling,” Furyk said. “I’m disappointed. I walked over, my boy is crying right after the round, and I guess it reminds you as an adult, as a parent that you have to act the proper way.
“You have to do and say the right things to try to give the right lessons.”
And Jim Furyk always does that. Sometimes it’s not about the winner.