Jim Furyk got a special exemption to get into this year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, but he had no special expectations.
The 48-year-old was coming back this season from a sternum and shoulder injury suffered in last year’s Open, and being the Ryder Cup captain this year comes with its own distractions, so being on the leader board of this Open going into the final round is pretty special in itself.
“I got a special exemption this week and was very thankful for that and also kind of wanted to try to use that,” Furyk said. “You know, you look at it two ways. I wanted to kind of use that opportunity and hopefully make something out of it, and this week it’s been fun. It was great to wake up this morning and kind of be like, you know, I’ve got a 1:53 tee time. That’s pretty cool on a weekend.”
Furyk shot a 72 on Saturday, more than a respectful number on a golf course that’s on the edge. He’s the 2003 Open champion and a consistent winner since coming on tour in 1994.
As grateful as he was coming into this tournament, he didn’t have reason to expect solid results after Monday’s practice round. “Monday was awful, it was better on Tuesday, better on Wednesday,” Furyk said. “I hurt myself in last year’s U.S. Open [at Erin Hills, Wisconsin] hitting out of some rough. It took me a long time just to be able to play golf again, to be honest with you.
“Now that I’m playing, I’m not sure I’m 100 percent. I’m feeling good.”
Furyk had played only 10 PGA Tour events coming in, missing four cuts, with his best finish a seventh in Tampa in early March. So Saturday was highly encouraging.
“This year, it’s definitely one of the most solid rounds I’ve played this year,” he said. “I’ve just done a really good job this week of really not letting much bother me, not getting emotional on the golf course. Not getting upset with myself and just accepting the mistakes because you’re going to make them here. I hope to be able to do that tomorrow.
“You know it coming into the U.S. Open, but 90 percent of the guys leave here realizing that, you know, they let it bother them and let it get to them, and, you know, so far my game — I’ve hit enough fairways, and I’ve kept the ball in play and got it around good enough to score.”
He’ll have another late tee time on Sunday, with a chance to turn his special exemption into something really special.