Jim Furyk: Don’t Look Back

Two wily old veterans, Davis Love III and Jim Furyk have risen to the challenge and are tied for the lead after three rounds of the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, Georgia.

They both shot 4-under, 66 and they have a two-stoke lead over D.J. Trahan and Arjun Atwal, both of whom could use a strong day on Sunday to save their cards for next year.

Love and Furyk spent a lot of time talking in the media room — real meaty stuff — and it was typical in terms of what the media wanted to know. In Love’s case, it was mostly about how he managed the Ryder Cup, whether he had gotten over the loss and how he balanced being the captain and still was able to prepare for a tournament. All quite interesting.

But the one who attracted my attention was Furyk, because his questions dealt with his flat year in 2012, how he didn’t get it done in the Ryder Cup, how he got himself up again to play and how he handled the derision over his losses at the Cup:

I had my opportunities to have a great year this year, just like I did in the past, and there’s two ways to look at it.  You know, I’m one of those people, I’m tougher on myself, I promise, than anyone else is.  So I’ve kicked myself a hundred times already.  And I’ve gotten over it.  That’s one thing I’ve always been able to do really well is I can kind of — I can get by it.  I can forget it.  I can put it behind me and move on.

And you know, it’s in the past now.  There’s nothing I can do to change it.  And nothing I do in the future is going to change it.  It is what it is.  It’s done with.  And instead of kind of looking to the past, and I realize we’re at the end of the season, and I’ve done a lot of interviews this week talking about so close, and you know, talking about this season, I’m kind of actually ‑‑ you know, I’m excited for this season to be over only for the fact that I can turn the page and we can start talking about the future.

I say that, but I spent the first four months of this year talking about how bad 2011 was, and it wasn’t until I started playing really well we started talking about that, so I’m sure in 2013 we’ll talk about how 2012 was so close and a near miss, but I’m looking to turn the page and really look more towards the future.

And I’m comfortable with where my game’s at.  I’m in good health right now.  You know, I have a lot of confidence in what I’m doing, and I also have about three months of time coming up where I’m taking some time off and getting away from golf, and I think I need that a little bit to get my head clear and get excited about golf again.  And when February rolls around I’ll be ready to go.

Words to live by.

Someone once said that the best relief pitchers in major league baseball are the ones with no memories. They come in in a relief situation with the game on the line and most often end up being the heroes. But it’s also true that sometimes they come in and get shelled and can’t even get more that one out. The best ones show up the next night and the only thing they’re thinking about is that night’s game.

I once Monday qualified with Randy Hundley, the retired Chicago Cubs catcher, and he was talking about how people just didn’t appreciate how hard nosed baseball is in the major leagues. All you have to do is witness a couple of collisions at the plate between the catcher and the player trying to score to get a sense of it. It may be a team sport, but inside that is this sort of mano a mano, clash of the titans mentality.

That’s not as true in golf. The players who have reached a state of serenity in the game realize that while professional golf is certainly competitive, there are no collisions at home plate.

As Furyk says, the player who can put the past behind him, the player who can play without any ego and the player who realizes that while he is competing against others players, he can’t do a thing about them. He can only control is own game.

The message? Especially in match play, put your head down, don’t look around and play as hard as you can. When it’s over, then you can take a look; although truth be told, they start peeking at the leaderboards in the home stretch to see if they have to alter that approach.

While “just focus on your game” may be the current prescription, there’s a lot to be said for what’s possible for a human being when they have adrenaline coursing through their veins.

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