Furyk faces long road to Presidents Cup
AP Golf Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – If there was an award for who traveled the farthest to get to the Presidents Cup, then Jim Furyk would be a candidate.
Furyk is playing in Shanghai before the Nov. 17-20 matches at Royal Melbourne in Australia, and he certainly won’t be the only Presidents Cup player there. The difference? Furyk is coming home to Florida in between.
He is at the Shanghai Masters this week, and hopes to get in the HSBC Champions a week later in Shanghai. Then, he will fly home to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., before leaving Friday on the 9,500-mile journey to Australia.
All told, he will be in the air roughly 25,000 miles before getting to Royal Melbourne.
“When you go over and get used to the time zone for two weeks, and then you’re home for four days, it’s not going to be that hard to get back,” Furyk said. “At least that’s my theory.”
Furyk had to make international plans before he was assured of being on the Presidents Cup team. He also knew that if he had to rely on being a pick, U.S. captain Fred Couples wanted his two selections to play the week before at the Australian Open.
“I had a chance to go to Lake Malaren (Shanghai Masters) and HSBC back to back, and for what I was trying to accomplish at the end of the year and what was best for me, I need to go play HSBC and it seemed easy to play Lake Malaren. So I committed to both,” Furyk said. “If I was 11th or 12th in the Presidents Cup, I knew I would have to play the week before. And I was prepared to do that.”
Once he made the team, Furyk was not about to back out on a commitment.
Furyk has talked to Couples about his travel schedule. The American captain only wanted to make sure his guys were ready to go.
“I’m playing three of five weeks leading up to the event,” Furyk said. “I’ll be ready to go.”
DONALD HONORS: The PGA Tour player of the year won’t be decided until December, although Luke Donald already can bank on a couple of awards. By winning at Disney, he clinched the PGA of America award as player of the year over Webb Simpson. That honor is based on a points system.
The other is more obscure, but meaningful in one small respect.
Donald has clinched the Mark H. McCormack Award for being No. 1 in the world ranking for the most weeks in a calendar year. Donald took over at No. 1 on May 29, and now has a whopping 3.27 lead over Lee Westwood.
Donald will be only the second player to have his name on the award. It began in 1998, when Tiger Woods was No. 1 in the world. Since then, no one has been No. 1 for longer than 26 weeks – Vijay Singh in 2004, but that was toward the end of the year. Woods regained No. 1 the next spring and kept it for the next five years.
After a few years, the tour stopped making the annual presentation to Woods at Bay Hill.
STATISTICAL LEADERS: J.B. Holmes is the new king of the long ball on the PGA Tour.
Holmes, who did not compete in the FedEx Cup playoffs because of brain surgery, led the tour in driving distance with an average of 318.4 yards. It’s the first time he led that category. Robert Garrigus had led in driving distance the past two years, at 315.5 yards in 2010 and 312.3 yards in 2009. It’s the longest average to lead the tour since Bubba Watson averaged 319.6 yards in 2006.
Joe Durant won the accuracy award for the fourth time, hitting 75.7 percent of his fairways. Boo Weekley was tops in greens in regulation at 71.7 percent.
And this should come as no surprise – Luke Donald was No. 1 in putting, based on the tour’s new “Strokes Gained” statistic. Donald also was No. 1 in another key putting statistic. He had only 15 three-putts out of 1,206 holes he played this year.
USGA AWARD: Three years after she retired, Annika Sorenstam was selected for USGA’s highest honor. She was voted to receive the Bob Jones Award, presented each year since 1955 to recognized distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
Sorenstam will be presented the award Feb. 4 at the USGA’s annual meeting in Houston.
“Annika has consistently exhibited the specific character trait – distinguished sportsmanship – that the Bob Jones Award was established to recognize, and has done so while achieving a level of success that few have equaled,” USGA president Jim Hyler said.
Sorenstam retired from the LPGA Tour in 2008 and since has started a family with two children. She was named an ambassador to the USGA in 2008 to help make the game more accessible to players of all skill levels. She also was a key figure in the successful pitch to get golf back into the Olympics.
“He is known for his character, and I have always tried to pride myself on being respectful to others both on and off the course,” Sorenstam said of the award’s namesake.
MAJOR ROOKIE: Louis Oosthuizen was a major champion before joining the PGA Tour. He still felt like a rookie, and hopes he can learn from his mistakes next year – not on the golf course, but in scheduling. Trying to juggle two tours proved difficult for him, and he wound up missing the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Oosthuizen had to play the Fall Series just to reach the minimum 15 tournaments required for PGA Tour members. At least he went out in style, finishing two shots out of the playoff at Sea Island and finishing fourth. He ended his rookie year at No. 117 on the money list.
It was a tough experience, but not a bad one.
“I’m liking it out here,” Oosthuizen said. “Next year I’m doing both tours again, but I think the schedule will look a bit differently. I’m definitely coming back. I knew it was going to be a hard year traveling, and I wanted the golf to be better than it was.”
It will be a busy start to next year. His wife, Nalmarie, is expecting their second child toward the end of January.
DIVOTS: Dustin Johnson will be using TaylorMade rep Keith Sbarbaro as his caddie in the Australian Open and the Presidents Cup, finishing out the year at the Chevron World Challenge before he hires a full-time looper. Sbarbaro also worked for him briefly in Europe when he was last between caddies. … Nigel Edwards will return as Walker Cup captain for Great Britain & Ireland in the 2013 matches at National Golf Links. Edwards led GB&I to victory over the Americans in September at Royal Aberdeen. … Boo Weekley, Brandt Snedeker and Gary Woodland will represent the PGA Tour in the Three-Tour Challenge, to be played Nov. 8 at Rio Secco in Las Vegas, and televised Dec. 13. … The European Tour made it official Tuesday by announcing the Volvo Golf Champions, which Paul Casey won last year in Bahrain, will be played Jan. 19-22 at Fancourt in South Africa, site of the 2003 Presidents Cup. … Charlie Sifford, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004, was to be inducted Tuesday into the Southern California Golf Association Hall of Fame. He won the 1969 Los Angeles Open at Rancho Park.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Dustin Johnson hit the longest drive on the PGA Tour this year, 463 yards on the par-5 seventh hole at the TPC Boston in the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship. He made par.
FINAL WORD: “It never stopped being a challenge.” – Arnold Palmer, on what he found so appealing about golf.