IT’S for me to know and for you to find out, was Jim Furyk’s response last night, when he was asked to say which Irish links he plans to play over the next few days.
The world number five revealed that he will be combining a family holiday with wife Tabitha and children Caleigh Lynn, aged eight, and Tanner James, aged six, with a couple of rounds over two of the best known courses in the south-west of the country.
“I’m smart enough not to tell you where and when,” he laughed. “I’ve seen that happen before where 250 people turn up on the first tee. Essentially, I’m based in this area so it could be Lahinch, Ballybunion. I’d like to see the Old Head because of its beauty but it’s too far to get down. It’s years ago but I’ve played both links.
“Of course playing links before going to St Andrews for the Open would be beneficial. It helps just to see the ball bounce. You are going to hit similar style shots, keeping the ball low and down in the wind. This course here in Adare, as firm and fast as it’s playing, it’s not that far off, conditions are similar and it’s very windy out there.”
Furyk shot rounds of 71 and 74 to finish mid-table in the JP McManus Pro-Am but, like all the visitors, seems to have had a great time. He smiled easily again commenting that “because I look so serious on television, people don’t realise I’m kidding. I always try to have some banter and joke around and I catch a lot of people off guard on the golf course, which is fun. I think when you can poke humour and people can’t figure it out, sometimes it’s even funnier, if that makes sense.”
Pro-am organisers reported that the attendance yesterday was in the region of 45,000, an increase of 5,000 on Thursday, and this time the traffic snarl-ups were nothing like as serious, largely because of the use of new, strategically located car parks. Furyk referred to the many pens thrust at him in search of autographs as “just enthusiasm” but was genuinely disturbed at seeing an accident that befell one individual.
“I watched him try to get an autograph so bad that he actually slipped on a cart path, twisted his ankle and fell down writhing in pain,” he related. “Someone said, ‘well, it wasn’t worth getting an autograph, was it?’ It was a kind of mean thing to say, it was kind of funny but mean. I would rather say hello to someone and talk to them and meet them than that. But it’s amazing how many people came out and how excited they were.
“Everyone loves Paddy (Pádraig Harrington) and to see the masses of people following him down the first fairway was incredible. It was nice to see. Everyone is having a great time and having fun and enjoying themselves. That’s what this is about and why JP has it.”
Justin Rose, winner of two tournaments on the USPGA Tour over the past month, the AT&T as recently as Sunday, shared that view as he pointed out that “the reception I was getting on every hole was fantastic, people were saying they were watching and blaming me for keeping them up too late. One of the big bonuses of my recent good run is I get to play the Open at St Andrews, something I’ve never done before.”
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