In some ways, 2012 was a year to forget for Jim Furyk.
OK, he did manage two runner-up finishes and eight top-10s in 24 events. And he was third on the PGA Tour in scoring average and fourth in driving accuracy. Plus, he hit a lot of greens in regulation and for the most part, he putted well. Oh, and he won more than $3.6 million.
On paper, that all looks pretty good. In fact, it looks very good. So why would he want to forget about last season?
Those aforementioned accomplishments and the stellar golf he played for a majority of the year—looking back, it's certainly nothing to scoff at.
But, it was the way he let several would-be victories slip away—victories that would've otherwise made his 2012 a year to remember, much like his brilliant 2010 PGA Tour Player of the Year campaign—it's those losses that keep dredging up the bad memories of what could have been for the 42-year-old, 19-year PGA Tour veteran who has an impressive 16 career victories to his credit.
Instead, Furyk will unfortunately be remembered more for how he let the U.S. Open slip away. Tied for the lead heading to the 16th tee in the final round at the Olympic Club, he uncharacteristically duck-hooked his drive into the woods and made bogey, never to recover, eventually finishing two shots behind winner Webb Simpson.
And it didn't end there. I followed him around Firestone Country Club during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, knowing full-well the tournament was his to lose. And he lost it. Furyk double-bogeyed the final hole to lose his lead—and the tournament—to eventual winner Keegan Bradley.
I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. The crowd surrounding the 18th green was stunned but far from silent. I felt bad for the guy. And with all due respect to Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley, two outstanding young players, they didn't win those golf tournaments as much as Jim Furyk lost them. Furyk let the victories that were well within his grasp slip away.
Finally, to add insult to injury—so to speak—Furyk was an integral part of an unthinkable, epic collapse for Team USA at the Ryder Cup in late September. With a commanding four point lead heading into the Sunday singles event, the United States needed only a few matches to lock up a victory. But they couldn't get the one point they needed the most. Bubba Watson couldn't do it. Neither could Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods or—Jim Furyk.
Furyk came close, again, but he missed par putts—yes, par putts—on the final two holes to go from leading to losing against Sergio Garcia.
I guess the popular word to attach to Furyk's poor play at the worst possible times is: choke. He choked. When it mattered the most, Jim Furyk couldn't get the job done. And that's not a label any player in any sport wants attached to their name.
So, how does Jim Furyk avoid a second straight disappointing year? Well, it's important to understand that outside of a few swings—albeit pivotal ones—2012 was an outstanding year for Furyk. It was a lot better than his 2011 season. He did a lot of things very well.
Question: So, what does Jim Furyk need to do to make 2013 a better season than last? Answer: Not much.
Furyk would be the first to admit that outside of a couple mental errors, those would-be victories would have been his. So, if he plays the same kind of golf he did last season and cleans up a few of those costly mental mistakes, he could have a career year.
Jim Furyk is going to be just fine. In fact, when he makes his 2013 PGA Tour season debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am this week, I expect it will mark the beginning of what should be a season to remember.