Sunday, June 15

Checking in from Olympia Fields

Jesper Parnevik
The U.S. Open trophy certainly catches the eye of Jim Furyk.

  • Furyk continued a streak where the last five U.S. Open winners have played in the final group. Lee Janzen was in the next-to-last group when he won at Olympic Club in '98 and Corey Pavin was in the third-to-last group when he won at Shinnecock Hills in '95. But further back than that? Hale Irwin was 20th heading into the final round in 1990 before shooting 67 to tie Mike Donald, and win in an 18-hole playoff the next day.

  • Woods used his putter four times to make a double bogey on No. 9. It was technically a three-putt since his first was from the fringe, but even Woods counted it as four. "I thought I made the first putt," he said later. "I hit a terrible second putt and a terrible third putt. But, luckily, I hit the fourth putt right in the middle."

  • Ryan Dillon finished last in the field after an 80 Sunday (he shot 81 on Saturday). But he asked at the 18th hole to get the crowd to sing happy birthday to his wife, Shana, who is 26. "I had no idea," said Shana. "That was great." Then, turning in the direction of the 26-year-old Dillon, said: "And I'll always be younger than my husband."

  • A woman removed her top and approached Jim Furyk on the 12th hole. She never reached him and was escorted away by security. Furyk, who's married and has a daughter who turns 1 in a week, looked away.

  • The par-3 17th gave up just one birdie on Sunday -- to Mark Calcavecchia, who had an otherwise-forgetful 76. He drained a 25-footer after hitting a 7-wood to the green. "Where's my skin money?" Calcavecchia said afterward.

  • Jim Furyk and Mike Weir have more in common than top-three finishes at the Open. They were born on the same day -- May 12, 1970; Furyk in West Chester, Pa., Weir in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

  • Kenny Perry had the low round of the day -- a 67. "It looks like I'm ging to finish seventh or eighth," he said after the round. With the late finishers ballooning, he finished tied for third -- his best-ever Open.
    Mike "Fluff" Cowan was on Jim Furyk's bag Sunday and won his second major.

    You remember Fluff. Bushy mustache. Quips after every round. Ardent Grateful Dead fan. Funny ad for a hotel chain where he popped out of a suitcase with a goofy grin and a cleaver quip.

    His first major came with Tiger Woods in 1997 at The Masters. Cowan was the most famous caddie in the world, walking side-by-side with the world's most famous golfer. It took him six-plus years, a break-up with Woods, some soul-searching and a marriage with Furyk to get back to the top.

    Cowan was Peter Jacobsen's caddie for 18 years, starting in 1978. Jacobsen got hurt late in 1996, however, leaving Cowan without a loop until Jacobsen mended.

    After Woods won his third straight U.S. Amateur, he decided to turn pro and called Cowan. The two were together a week later in Milwaukee. They won twice that year, and less than six months later, Cowan caddied as Woods won The Masters -- and never returned to Jacobsen.

    But Cowan's ride with Woods was short-lived. Despite seven wins together, he was fired by Woods in 1998 -- reportedly for talking out of turn and gaining too high a profile, a no-no in the Woods camp. "He told me he didn't want me anymore," Cowan said Sunday. Why? "That's something nobody will ever know."

    Woods dumped him after the L.A. Open, had a friend caddie the next week at the World Match Play Championship, and soon after picked up New Zelander Steve Williams, who's been on his bag for seven majors.

    Cowan caught on with Furyk and has been with him ever since. Together, they've won twice at Las Vegas and once each at Doral, the Mercedes and Memorial. "You fall down, you get up and away you go," he said. "It all works out sometimes."

    Sunday, as Furyk fought back tears walking up the 18th green, Cowan gave him a fist-bump and a pat on the back. "Pretty awesome," said Cowan, now married with a six-month-old daughter at age 55.

    "All I can do is say it feels as great as the first time," said Cowan. Then, he stopped. "I'd better not say any more."

    Cowan's a little more cagey than he was six years ago. But no less excited to be back on top.

    "I'm thrilled about it," he said. "I'm really thrilled about this one. it's the national championship."

    He never dreamed it would take so long.


    On his comeback chances: "If I would have posted a good solid number, like a 62 or a 61 when the conditions were firming up, you never know."

    On the win: "The professional part if putting my name on the trophy. But the special part is being able to share it with my family."

    On Furyk: "It's his time. He's 33. They're expecting their second child. He's got one child. It seems like all of those things seem to contribute."

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