Missing the 2016 Masters Tournament wasn’t as hard as Jim Furyk feared.
The veteran had to sit it out with a nagging left wrist injury, which required surgery two months before the tournament.
“I actually went up there,” Furyk said of the week of the Masters. “I thought that might be a little painful. Did some work corporately and was on the grounds a couple of times. Had lunch and got to say hello to a couple of folks. It was actually good to do that.”
If the “did not participate” next to his name on the big leaderboard adjacent to the first fairway had happened early in his career, it might have been tougher for Furyk, who is now 46.
“I can’t be any more excited (about the Masters),” said Furyk, who has finished in the top 10 four times at Augusta National, with his best finish being fourth in 1998 and 2003. “I get very excited to play the event. I missed last year, but I’ve played there enough. If I played three years and missed, I’d be champing at the bit. But I’ve played it 19 times. If I missed a year … they’re all starting to blend together. I’ll be all right.”
Furyk also missed the Masters in 2004 with the same injured left wrist. He is not one to watch golf on TV, but he makes an exception for the Masters.
“It’s the one event, where if I’ve played, I want to run home if I’m two hours ahead of the leaders and see everyone finish because I want to see what happens,” said Furyk, who was named captain of the U.S. squad for the 2018 Ryder Cup in January.
Furyk was able to watch the 2016 tournament from beginning to end on TV.
“It’s a bummer to watch on TV and not play,” he said.
What makes the Masters different, Furyk said, is “the course, the shots, the history. It’s such a special place. Because that course is played on the same course every year. You think back to when (Jack) Nicklaus hit that shot. It sparks more memories for me.”
Furyk injured his wrist in September 2015 and hoped to avoid surgery. When he was not recovering as quickly as anticipated, he had the surgery five months later.
“I had hopes until late March that maybe I could get back (and play in the Masters), but it just wasn’t strong enough and wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to make a full swing with a driver. I could hit a 9-iron and feel good but if I tried to hit a driver, it hurt.”
During his visit to the Masters, Furyk said he “hit some balls at Augusta Country Club. I was up to about 7- or 8-irons at that time. I chipped and putted and tried to rehab.”
Furyk, who returned to the tour in early May 2016, showed he was at 100 percent strength in August when he broke the PGA Tour single-round scoring record with 58 in the final round at the Travelers Championship, where he opened with 73-66-72 and finished tied for fifth.
Furyk had finished tied for 73rd in the PGA Championship the week before, but he got a tip from his father Mike – the only teacher he’s ever had – the week of the Travelers that paid off.
“It’s kind of a reminder no matter how bad you feel with your swing you’re never that far away, or no matter how good you feel you’re probably not that far away from playing poorly, as well,” he said.
Before his 58, Furyk had been the last player on the PGA Tour to shoot 59, in the second round of the 2013 BMW Championship. Furyk is the only player to break 60 twice on the PGA Tour. Counting Furyk’s two rounds in the 50s, 60 has been broken nine times on the PGA Tour, including twice this year.
“I guess had I never shot 59 before, I probably would have been thinking 59, the barrier,” Furyk said of his historic round at the Travelers. “But the fact that I did it three years ago, you know, in the back of my mind I’ve got 11-under through 12, I’ve got six holes to play. If I play them under par, I’m going to break another barrier.
“Yeah, having that experience in the past, and this one mimicked it a lot, it was comforting for me,” Furyk said. “You don’t wake up on Sunday morning with an 8:41 tee time thinking that anything exciting is going to happen. I mean, really on those days the most exciting thing that can happen is the group in front of you plays quick and your flight takes off a little early and you get home is usually what you’re looking to do. To get out there and make a bunch of birdies and get the juices flowing and feel like I was in the hunt in a golf tournament was kind of cool.”