For a guy who has played in 540 tournaments over 23 full seasons on the PGA Tour, Jim Furyk is anticipating an odd sensation when he takes to the first tee Thursday in the opening round of the 14th Wells Fargo Championship.
Furyk hasn’t played a competitive round of golf in 7 ½ months, since withdrawing Sept. 17 from the first round of the BMW Championship.
He was experiencing pain from a bone growth known as an osteophyte on his left wrist, and when it wasn’t improving he had surgery in early February to remove it.
“This being a seven-month or longer break is a little awkward. It's going to be interesting teeing up tomorrow and seeing how I feel,” Furyk said. “So far practice has gone real well and I felt good in the practice round and during the pro-am [Wednesday], but the gun going off is a little different so it will be interesting to come back.
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“I’m maybe not as sharp physically as I would like to be, but mentally I’m refreshed and excited.”
Furyk said his wrist only allowed him to start hitting a driver two weeks ago.
So it kind of took a while to progress, but once it did it seemed to come around pretty fast. I feel pretty good. I’m still on maybe a limited practice schedule and not able to go to the range and bang a bunch of balls, but it feels good.
“So it kind of took a while to progress, but once it did it seemed to come around pretty fast,” Furyk said. “I feel pretty good. I'm still on maybe a limited practice schedule and not able to go to the range and bang a bunch of balls, but it feels good.”
Furyk was ranked seventh in the world when he played his final round of 2015. In the 2014-15 season he had a win in the RBC Heritage, six top-five finishes and just two missed cuts in 19 events. He tied for 11th and fourth in the first two FedExCup playoff events before withdrawing from the third.
He has fallen to 25th in world rankings and is playing catch-up in a lot of categories on the PGA Tour, not the least of which is U.S. Ryder Cup Team points, where he’s 41st.
Furyk has been named a vice captain on the team under captain Davis Love III, along with Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, and he attended a dinner at the Florida home of Jack and Barbara Nicklaus in February following the first round of the Honda Classic. He played a practice round with Love on Tuesday and they were discussing Ryder Cup topics.
“After like three holes I said, ‘Wait a minute, you and [caddie] Fluff are going to play. Let’s quit talking about the assistant captain role and let’s get back into playing,’ ” Love said. “I’m just glad to see him on the golf course and not hurting, and hopefully we’ll see him making some points soon.”
Furyk would certainly like to be playing against the Europeans at Hazeltine National in Minnesota from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. “I've played in the last nine. Ten sounds good. It's a good whole number,” Furyk said.
While away from the tour, Furyk was able to spend more time with wife Tabitha and the couple’s son and daughter, and attended a lot of their sporting events.
“I enjoyed my time at home and I enjoyed my time off immensely and being home with Tab and the kids, but I also missed being out here and competing and it's good to be back out.”
Behind the scenes
At 2 p.m. Sunday, an hour before coverage of the final round begins, CBS Sports will air an hour-long special titled “Destination Sunday Presented by Wells Fargo” that will showcase both the players in the event and the team that works behind the scenes to ensure a great tournament.
The show will take an in-depth look at player preparation for the tournament from the time they arrive to their practice rounds, as well as a look at everything that transpires outside the ropes. The special will tell the story of the event through the eyes of various players, as well as their families, friends, managers, agents and caddies.
Two-time Wells Fargo Championship winner Rory McIlroy, Charlotte resident Webb Simpson and PGA Tour rookie Emiliano Grillo will be profiled. Production by PGA Tour Entertainment will continue through Saturday night.
The show will also highlight The First Tee and Wells Fargo's Succeeding Together program, where participants earn the opportunity for a trip to the tournament and pro-am spot.
Golf fans will be able to follow every shot of some of the tournament’s top players in the first two rounds online through PGA Tour Live’s featured groups from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Featured threesomes Thursday will be Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama, as well as Jim Furyk, Brian Stuard, Patrick Reed. The groups tee off at 7:50 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Friday, the threesomes of J.B. Holmes, Webb Simpson and Phil Mickelson, and Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Bill Haas will be followed on pgatourlive.com, which will switch to featured hole coverage from 3-6 p.m. both days.
Fans can register for a free seven-day trial or download the PGA Tour Live app for either $5.99 per month or $39.99 for the year.