Monday, August 6

Death of the Front-Runner?

Jim Furyk (Allison)
IT WAS UNCOMFORTABLE TO WATCH JIM FURYK lose the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on the 72nd hole after leading the tournament for the preceding 71 holes. Especially after what happened less than two months ago in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.

Sure, Keegan Bradley was clutch on the incoming nine, sinking crucial putts and putting a 64 on the board. Great stuff, no doubt. Still, it was Furyk’s tournament, right? That last hole was a train wreck.

I read in Brian Wacker’s Monday Backspin column that “only 11 of 34 leaders going into the final round have held on to win on the PGA Tour this season.” To borrow from a famous line in the classic movie “Cool Hand Luke,” “What we’ve got here is a failure to finish.”

So what’s the deal?

One pro told me, in effect, that a lot of today’s players just don’t know how to win. I often wonder if it’s the money. Many decent and even top players don’t need to do more than collect top-10 finishes to have a “good” year. Winning from the front is looking impossible right now. It sure hasn’t worked out well for the 54-hole leaders at the 2012 majors.

As for Furyk, I just feel bad for him. I expect he’s sort of devastated.

“To get that close and to know that I played more than good enough to win the golf tournament and not close the door is disappointing,” he said.

“It is a cruel game .… I’ve lost some tournaments in some pretty poor fashions, but I don’t think I’ve let one ever slip nearly as bad as this one. This was my worst effort to finish off an event.”

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