Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Furyk isn't obsessed with No. 1, but he wouldn't mind claiming it

Jim Furyk focuses on his golf game. He focuses on the leaderboard. He focuses on his position each round, particularly the back nine on Sunday.

What this year's PGA TOUR Player of the Year doesn't focus on is his spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

"I've never worried about rankings," he said Wednesday during a visit to the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse.
But Furyk, currently No. 5 in the world, will change his outlook should one thing ever happen -- he ascends to the No. 1 spot in the world.

At that point, he will sit back, give himself a chance to reflect and appreciate the journey that got him there.
"It would be cool just to say one day, even for a week, I was ranked No. 1 in the world," Furyk said. "That's my one exception to the rule for world rankings. It would be cool to say that."

Right now, Lee Westwood is the current No. 1, having moved into that position six weeks ago for the first time in his career while ending Tiger Woods' record 281-week stay atop the rankings.

Woods is now No. 2, followed by Martin Kaymer (No. 3), Phil Mickelson (No. 4) and Furyk.

"Lee Westwood's got to be giggling right now," Furyk said. "It's something he'll be able to tell people forever."
Thanks to his win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa last weekend, Westwood guaranteed himself of maintaining the No. 1 spot for at least the rest of this month going into 2011.

But the expectation is that the No. 1 ranking could be juggled among several players in 2011. With the competition at the top so tight, and those higher-echelon players spread out among the PGA TOUR and European Tour, the No. 1 spot could ping-pong back and forth across the Atlantic all year.

One of those players, of course, is Furyk. In 2006, he rose to No. 2 in the world after winning the RBC Canadian Open. But that's about as far as he could go with Woods in such dominant form.

"In the past, Tiger had such a big lead (in the rankings) that it didn't matter how well you played, you couldn't catch him," Furyk said. "... It wasn't possible.

"Now, those numbers are so close that there's probably five or six guys legitimately sometime during this year could be ranked No. 1."

Producing similar results in 2011 like the ones he had this year, when he won a career-high three events as well as the FedExCup, could be enough to move Furyk to No. 1. Remember, too, that the rankings are based on a two-year "rolling" period. So if he has a great 2011, it would replace the 2009 season in which he failed to win.

"I think just by the numbers there's probably already a scenario of some sort," Furyk said about his shot at No. 1.

But he insists he won't adjust his playing schedule if he gets close. He will start his season in Hawaii at the first two events of the year, and will make a couple of dozen or so starts.

Starting the season as a 40-year-old, Furyk knows his concentration must remain on the immediate tasks -- staying in shape, maintaining his good health, keeping a consistent swing and, most of all, taking advantage of his Sunday back-nine opportunities.

Still, he knows the rankings discussion will be a watercooler topic all year.

"I think this year will be more interesting with the parity being brought up," Furyk said. "It will actually make for a good story this year -- where it hasn't been able to for a lot of years."

For at least one week in 2011, Furyk would like to be the main topic of that story. 

That would be cool.

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