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FOCUS ON GOLF | GOLF NOTES

Furyk Is One to Watch, Watson Says

August 14, 2003|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — If someone is going to win a second major this year, Tom Watson said he thinks it might turn out to be Jim Furyk at the PGA Championship.

Because Furyk won the U.S. Open and Oak Hill Country Club reminds players of a U.S. Open layout, Watson said Furyk seems to be a logical choice.

"First and foremost, it is an absolute must that you put the ball in the fairway off the tee," he said. "I was thinking about Furyk as a player who will probably do well here. You've just got to go down the list to see who is driving the ball well, who is hitting the ball straight and you have to go with something like that."

Furyk will say only that he hasn't changed.

"I don't feel like I'm any different a player than I was two months ago or I was on June 1 before the U.S. Open came along.

"Mentally, I think there's a bunch added. It's an edge because I know I can do it rather than thinking I can do it."

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It has been a banner year for Davis Love III, who has won four times and made more than $5 million, so he said he should be considered a contender this week.

Love said one of his goals at the start of the year was to be player of the year. A victory this week would help, he said.

"I've played enough big tournaments that I ought to be comfortable at this one," he said.

Love won the 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot, but he has had only two top-fives in majors since -- second in the 1999 Masters and tied for fourth at the British Open last month.

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Can a player win the player of the year award even if he doesn't win a major?

Ernie Els says yes.

"If you win six or seven times, I think so," he said. "[But] a major definitely helps your case. If you win one major in the year and you have a bunch of top-10s, I think that might even give you player of the year. But not winning a major, you have to win quite a few regular events."

For the record, Love and Woods have won four times each, but neither has won a major this year. Mike Weir leads the way with three victories, one of them at the Masters.

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Bruce Edwards, Watson's regular caddie, is too ill to work with Watson this week. He is in the Bahamas receiving treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease.

"As far as Bruce's condition is concerned, he's basically holding in there, getting a little bit worse," Watson said. "It takes you down slowly but surely."

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He's ranked 137th and falling, but David Duval said reports that he is changing his swing are false.

"I'm not changing anything," he said. "I'm restoring. I think there's a big difference. I'm just trying to put myself back where I was, swinging the golf club like I used to."

Duval, who was ranked third to begin 2002, has missed 13 cuts in 18 tournaments this year, including all three of the majors. He hasn't made a cut since the first week of March.

"I'm in a bad cycle right now and unfortunately for me, it's lasted a little longer than I expected."

Watson said he thinks Duval's slump relates to his grip.

"Grip is the most difficult thing in the world to change," he said. "It changes the action of the hands and/or the body in combination with the golf swing."

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Thomas Bjorn gets a chance this week in a major to erase his major disappointment on the last day at Royal St. George's, where he led the British Open but took three shots to get out of a bunker on No. 16, making a double bogey.

"I know that I can be with the best, I can play with the best, and a couple of loose shots, but not ridiculously loose shots, at the wrong time on that Sunday cost me a major championship," he said.

"But you can only go away from that and say, well, I learned a lot this week. You can only continue to look to the future and try and do the right things."

Memo to Bjorn: Oak Hill has 82 bunkers.

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John Daly's return to the PGA Championship, 12 years after he burst onto the scene at Crooked Stick and won, probably isn't going to be very easy this week. Daly, 37, has battled alcoholism, gambling addiction and an assortment of other problems on and off the course, and now he's faced with another big one: His wife and her parents have been indicted in Mississippi on drug and gambling charges.

Sherrie Miller Daly, Daly's fourth wife, faces indictments that she was involved in a conspiracy to buy and sell cocaine and marijuana and other drugs from 1996 to 2002.

The indictment came down in late July, five days after she gave birth to Daly's third child, a son.

Daly said he was in shock about the indictments.

"It's not fair to kick someone down when they're not proven guilty," he said. "I just have to wait and see what happens."

Daly said he was unaware of any illegal activities by his wife, who faces 20 years in prison.

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Willie Gault, Don Ford, Mike Lansford, Dr. Sammy Lee, Carlos Palomino, Pete Shaw, Toi Cook, Olivia Brown and Mickey Jones are some of the 50 celebrities scheduled to participate in the ICAZA Foundation/Local 770 Leukemia & Lymphoma Celebrity Charity classic Monday at Robinson Ranch in Santa Clarita. Details:(760) 632-7770.

Kermit Alexander, Dick Bass, Reggie Berry, Keith Erickson, Brian Goodell, Tommy Mason, Ed Ratleff and Bill Russell are some of the 36 celebrities who are scheduled to play in the San Clemente Sunrise Rotary Club Golf Tournament Aug. 25 at Talega Golf Club in San Clemente. The event benefits Laura's House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence. Details: (760) 632-7770.

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