After going through a period of uncertainty a year ago, Jim Furyk has figured out how to make golf fun again — and his game has been the biggest beneficiary.
Furyk, who turns 44 on Monday, shot a 4-under 68 Friday at The Players Championship to tie for fourth, six strokes behind second-round leader Martin Kaymer.
After the round, Furyk recalled leading at Houston in his rookie year on the tour 20 years ago when he ran into veteran Wayne Levi in the locker room.
“Wayne was talking about how golf was a job, it’s what I do for a living, it’s my occupation,” Furyk recalled. “And I was thinking, ‘This is the greatest job going.’ I was thinking, ‘Just shoot me if it ever gets to a point where it becomes a job.’ ”
And then, as Furyk was grinding through another long season last year, that’s just what happened.
“I had to figure out a way to make it fun again and enjoy what I do, and it’s not hard,” he said. “I mean, I played this game my whole life because I love it. (But) after so many years, and wanting to do so many more things at home with my family and my kids and missing ballgames … I had to figure out things a little bit.”
As a result, Furyk opted to skip last year’s tournament at Charlotte that precedes The Players and spend that time talking to his wife and mental coach Bob Rotella.
“I just felt like I needed to limit my schedule a little bit, play the events I really loved and wanted to be at, and go in with a much better attitude,” Furyk said.
In recent years he has played as many as 26 PGA Tour events annually. Last year he cut that down to 22 and is on a similar pace this season.
Furyk closed last season with five top-10s in his last seven events, including a second at the PGA Championship. He has been in the top 20 in his last five events this season, including a second last week at Charlotte.
After shooting par 36 his first nine Thursday, he went 2-under on his last nine. Friday, he was -2 on the front nine and -2 on the back. Not sizzling, but close enough to remain in contention.
“I kind of did that last week,” he said, referring to his second at Charlotte. “The first round I shot even par. I could have played better, but I didn’t. But I stayed patient and (it) eventually came around. I really haven’t forced the issue, and it’s helped me a lot.”