Jim Furyk has been so good for so long that it seems as if the only thing separating him from his first win in a major is some good karma. If that is the case, his victory at last week's Memorial, at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, was pregnant with possibility.
First off, there was Furyk's putter, which inexplicably caught fire after spending most of the year packed in ice. There were his two chip-ins on the final nine holes, including one for eagle on the 15th hole (page G12) from a bunker so deep that Furyk had to rely on the roar of the crowd to know that the ball had gone in. There was Furyk's wife, Tabitha, whom he met at this event seven years ago and who is now only five weeks from delivering the couple's first child. (It's a girl.) Even the baby's due date is propitious: July 3, neatly nestled between the U.S. and British Opens. Finally, there was the surprise visit on Sunday by the golf team from Furyk's alma mater, Arizona. The team was in nearby Columbus for this week's NCAA championships at Ohio State. (Furyk has had two previous wins after visits by the Wildcats. Now, if he could just get the team to come to Beth-page Black in June for this year's U.S. Open.)
Despite a famously loopy swing, Furyk, 32, has worked hard to turn himself into one of the game's better ball strikers—he is fourth on Tour in driving accuracy and greens hit in regulation—which is why he has never missed the cut in seven starts at the U.S. Open. He has 62 career top 10 finishes (not that far behind Tiger Woods's 75), and in September he will play on his third U.S. Ryder Cup team. Going into Sunday's final round in 10th place, five shots behind leader Bob Tway, Furyk shot the lowest final-round score ever by a Memorial winner, a seven-under-par 65. "Jim is a grinder," says Mike Furyk, Jim's father and swing coach. "The harder the course, the more it favors his game."
Furyk has been off his game for most of this year, partly because he has been battling a lingering case of vertigo caused by an infection in his right ear. Uncharacteristically, he had missed the cut in four of his six starts before the Memorial and was ranked a dismal 152nd in putting, long the strongest part of his game. He was fifth in putting at Muirfield Village. "I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent right now," Furyk said on Sunday evening, "but I'm feeling much better. I've tried a couple of different medications, but the thing I need most is rest. The more tired I am, the dizzier I feel."
Though he recently shot a 74 (with a few gimmes and mulligans) during a practice round at Bethpage, Furyk said his win at the Memorial was "a big confidence booster," heading into the U.S. Open. Looking even further ahead, Furyk conceded that caring for a newborn will not be the best way to prepare for the British Open, but he also noted that the tournament will be played at that other Muirfield, the storied one in Scotland. "I definitely would like to see two wins at Muirfield this year," he said. Given all the good karma surrounding him at the moment, maybe that's not too much to ask.