Friday, June 18, 2004

Champ Furyk just happy to be here

U.S. Open notebook

The Associated Press

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. - Jim Furyk didn't know if he would get the chance to defend his U.S. Open title.

In January, an MRI revealed torn cartilage in his left wrist and he decided to have surgery to repair it. His first competitive round of golf since then was Thursday at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open.

He shot a 2-over 72, good enough to make him optimistic about the rest of the week.

"I just didn't get the ball in the hole and I made some poor decisions out there. That'll happen. It'll come," he said.

As defending champion, Furyk played in the traditional group with British Open champion Ben Curtis, who had a 68, and U.S. Amateur champion Nick Flanagan, who had an 80.

Only one defending champion since 1991 has managed to finish better than 40th. Tiger Woods was 12th in 2001 as defending champion, and four others didn't even make the cut.

DIFFERENT PINS: Mark Calcavecchia wasn't making a fashion statement. He was helping his aching back.

"I saw Freddie's acupuncture lady last night," Calcavecchia said, referring to fellow pro and back pain sufferer Fred Couples. "My back wasn't as tight."

The subject came up because Calcavecchia had two small needles in each ear, not misplaced jewelry but acupuncture pins to help with his lower back problem.

TIME PROBLEM: David Roesch felt rushed in his first round at a U.S. Open and wasn't too happy about it.

The 30-year-old mini-tour veteran had a 2-under 68 that came close to being a 69 or worse because of the USGA's pace-of-play policy.

"We were on the fourth, a par-4, I was in between clubs and a guy comes up to me and says, 'You've got a bad time. The next one's a shot,' " Roesch said, referring to a USGA official who informed the threesome individually they were behind the accepted pace of play.

Roesch admitted he didn't know the policy and said he would talk to someone in the USGA about it so it wouldn't be an issue today.

Under the USGA policy, a threesome has to play at a pace that would mean a round of no more than 4 hours and 32 minutes.

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