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Furyk fails to seal the deal ... again

4/25/2006 - Golf Jim Furyk

There is an old saying that it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.

It could not be more appropriate when talking about Jim Furyk.

Long regarded as one of the game's top players, especially since his breakthrough major championship win at the U.S. Open three years ago, Furyk is a gritty competitor with a funky swing who makes the most of what he's got.

But what he's got doesn't get him a lot of victories.

There he was again Sunday in contention at the Verizon Heritage, leading by two with seven holes to play, only to see Australia's Aaron Baddeley rally for his first PGA Tour victory.

It's hard to hammer Furyk for not winning, as it's not an easy thing to do, anytime, anywhere. He gets close often enough, but has trouble coming through. That's better than not getting there at all, right? But he has to be shaking his head and wondering just a little bit.

Sunday's runner-up finish was his fourth top-10 of the year. A week ago at The Masters, he made the cut on the number, shot a third-round 68 to get into contention and trailed by just four without having to play extra holes on Sunday morning. He shot 75.

Two weeks before, Furyk was the 36-hole leader at the Players Championship but shot a third-round 75 before finishing tied for third. He was also third at the Mercedes Championships, tied for seventh at the Sony Open and tied for 12th at the Nissan Open.

Furyk is playing good golf, but it just seems as though he should be winning more. He is ranked among the top 10 in the world and undoubtedly will be considered one of the U.S. mainstays later this fall at the Ryder Cup, where he will be on the team for the fifth time and likely will be paired with Tiger Woods.

"It's no fun getting up Sunday morning and being one of the first groups off and trying to figure out what flight you can make to get home," Furyk said. "It's nice to be here late and have the opportunity to win."

Furyk has 10 PGA Tour titles, the last coming in July at the Western Open. But he is 1-6 in PGA Tour playoffs, including six straight defeats. (He did win the unofficial Nedbank Challenge in South Africa in a playoff last fall, chipping in on the second extra hole to defeat Adam Scott, Retief Goosen and Darren Clarke). He lost twice in playoffs last year.

That helps explain why Furyk has won more than once in a season only one time, in 2003, the year he won the U.S. Open and the Buick Open.

After another runner-up finish -- the 14th of his career and fifth in the past two seasons -- Furyk was asked about Baddeley and whether he felt the young Aussie had been overdue for a victory or had not won as much as he would've thought.

Furyk said he hadn't given Baddeley's career a whole lot of consideration, but answered nonetheless.

"Maybe at the end of someone's career, you would look back and say that guy really hit it good, he really had a great game," Furyk said. "I'm surprised he didn't win more tournaments in his career."

Furyk could have been talking about himself.



Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at harig@sptimes.com.