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Big Play Relying on a loopy, unconventional but technically sound swing, Jim Furyk stiffed a pitching wedge on the 14th hole to seal his U.S Open win

June 23, 2003
June 23, 2003

Table of Contents
June 23, 2003

Sports Illustrated Bonus Section: Golf Plus

Big Play Relying on a loopy, unconventional but technically sound swing, Jim Furyk stiffed a pitching wedge on the 14th hole to seal his U.S Open win

Jim Furyk's game looks bizarre to the average golfer, but his
techniques make perfect sense. Using the left-hand-low (a.k.a.
cross-handed) putting grip helps Furyk go straight back and
through, so his putter face is square at impact. Also, his
idiosyncratic preshot routines keep him focused. Before each
swing he hitches his pants with his right hand, Arnold
Palmer-like, and before every putt he reads the line, addresses
the ball, steps away and then goes through the routine again. But
Furyk's most unorthodox action is his swing. Most pros rotate
their forearms during the takeaway and keep the club the same
angle from start to finish. Furyk does not turn his forearms,
which causes the club to be upright during his backswing. This
unique action is the foundation of Furyk's solid ball striking
because it forces him, during the transition to the downswing, to
loop his club back to a new, but perfect, plane. In winning the
U.S. Open, Furyk ranked first in greens in regulation (74%) and
second in driving accuracy (70%). His best shot on Sunday came at
the par-4 14th hole, where he stiffed a drawing 125-yard wedge
(above) to set up the final birdie that ended any suspense. With
his lead back to four shots over Stephen Leaney, Furyk coasted
home for his much-deserved first major title.

This is an article from the June 23, 2003 issue

THE TIP
THE LAG DRILL

There are many different takeaways but only two requirements for
an effective one: Keep the club face square to the ball during
the first couple of feet, and don't take the club drastically
inside or outside the target line. What I call the Lag Drill is a
great way to practice the takeaway. Using a mid-iron, address a
ball so that the clubhead sits behind the ball and directly in
front of a three-foot-long two-by-four (SETUP). On a good
takeaway you'll push the timber straight back, as the club face
will be square to the ball while the clubhead is outside of your
hands (RIGHT). On a poor takeaway the wood will spin to the side
while the club face opens and the clubhead is inside of your
hands (WRONG).

OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...

"Getting heckled at the U.S. Open was the best thing that's
ever happened to Vijay Singh. It changed him from a guy who
nobody likes to one who everybody feels sorry for."

"Something is awry with Tiger Woods, so don't be surprised if
he axes one of the three people that slumping golfers usually
blame: his significant other (girlfriend Elin Nordegren), his
caddie (Steve Williams), or his coach (Butch Harmon)."

"The USGA is in a tough spot. It wants to have another U.S.
Open in Chicago, but Olympia Fields was a bust, and there is no
other suitable course. Butler National has no black members,
Medinah and Kemper Lakes are aligned with the PGA, and Cog Hill
would need a massive renovation to toughen it up."

"My British Open favorite is England's Justin Rose, 22, who
tied for fifth in his U.S. Open debut."

Brad Redding, 41, teaches at Hartefeld National in Avondale, Pa.,
and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.

FOUR COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF NBC (FURYK)COLOR PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ANDREW GOMBERT; JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) SETUPTWO COLOR PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS: ANDREW GOMBERT; JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) WRONGTWO COLOR PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS: ANDREW GOMBERT; JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) RIGHTCOLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT