Jim Furyk hoping to recharge for 2012
For many, the packing has begun by now, another golf season around the corner, a long trip to Hawaii ahead.
Starting the year at Kapalua is a double bonus for those who qualify for the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. It means you won the prior season on the PGA Tour while also getting an easy kick-start on the new one.
But Jim Furyk won't be making the journey and is firmly entrenched at home. A year ago he was readying for the season-opening run on Maui and Oahu, having won three times during the 2010 season, including the Tour Championship that led to the FedEx Cup title and player of the year honors.
Today he is home in Florida, perhaps with his feet up and still enjoying the holidays, but gearing up for the 2012 season in a different way -- by taking time off.
Because he did not win in 2011, Furyk isn't eligible for the Hyundai, and he's elected to use this time for an extended offseason that will allow him to be with his family and better prepare for 2012. He does not plan to play until the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the sixth week of the season.
Along the way, he might do some reflecting, too, on a year that was disappointing, especially coming off the FedEx title.
"I lost some confidence along the way during the year," Furyk said. "But I didn't lose confidence in the fact that you're not going to go from player of the year to I can't play anymore.
"I realize you can lose confidence a lot quicker in this game than you can gain it. You can lose it quickly, but you have to build up some momentum, build up some time and some consistency before you gain a lot of confidence back, and I feel like I'm hopefully back on track to doing so. I feel a lot better about my game."
Furyk, 41, is coming off a frustrating year in which he endured the worst slump of his 16-year career.
When he missed the cut at the AT&T National in July, it was the first time since 1995 that Furyk missed the cut in four consecutive PGA Tour events in which he played.
There were different aspects of his game that were giving him problems, but Furyk pointed mostly to putting being the biggest issue. He gave a putter away to a fan following the first round of the AT&T tournament, so frustrated was he with it at the time.
He experimented with different models, different strokes. At that point of the season, Furyk had missed cuts in seven of 17 events. Some of it could be attributed to an equipment switch at the beginning of the season, although Furyk was reluctant to place too much blame on that.
And yet, Furyk changed drivers and golf balls in 2011 and there was some time needed to get comfortable.
"I definitely tried to go a little bit different route in my game and maybe tried to address some of my weaknesses, trying to get a little longer off the tee, trying to hit the ball a bit farther," Furyk said. "I like the ball I was playing. It was spinning a little bit less than the products I had played in the past. The driver was spinning a little less, so there was an adjustment period to that.
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"And I didn't do a very good job adjusting at times, either. In hindsight, if I had it to do over again, I may have done things a little bit differently. I may have addressed my equipment a little bit different, but I think I learned a lot in the process."
Changing equipment is always a risky proposition, some of it dictated by endorsement contracts. Furyk, coming off a big year, seemed more intent on making a change to help his game, not cash in. He went with a new TaylorMade driver and golf ball, products he swears by but ones that needed some time to sort out.
"I think I learned a lot of information in the process that hopefully will make me a better player in the future," he said.
Furyk did not miss a cut the rest of the season after the AT&T tournament and made a late run to secure a spot in the Tour Championship. He posted top-10 finishes at the Wyndham Championship and the Deutsche Bank Championship and then was in position to move into the top 30 in FedEx Cup points at the BMW Championship.
But a final-round 76 -- that at one point included four straight bogeys -- kept him from advancing, a disappointing end to the regular season as Furyk was unable to even defend his Tour Championship title.
He did, however, make the U.S. Presidents Cup team, where he led all players with a 5-0 record that included a 3-0 run with Phil Mickelson.
By then, Furyk was back using a conventional putter and feeling more confidence on the greens, where he holed a multitude of putts after struggling for much of the year.
"I had some very poor putting experiences," he said. "I was very consistently poor. And you can't play well if you're not knocking in putts. It doesn't matter how well you hit the ball, and it was a little frustrating and put a lot of pressure on the rest of my game.
"You feel like you've got to get the ball in the fairway and you have to get the ball on the green because I didn't feel like I was playing that well with the putter and probably forced too many shots to get them closer to the pin."
Furyk finished the year with a tie for sixth at the Chevron World Challenge and felt a lot better about the direction of his game.
And he's giving himself plenty of time to work out the issues before he gets started again.
"I'll come out rearing to go at Pebble," he said.
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.
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2012 SEASON PREVIEW
Masters: Augusta National Golf Club; April 5-8; Augusta, Ga.
U.S. Open: The Olympic Club; June 14-17; San Francisco, Calif.
Open Championship: Royal Lytham and St Annes; July 19-22; Lancashire, England
PGA Championship: Kiawah Island Ocean Course; Aug. 9-12; Kiawah Island, S.C.
Ryder Cup: Medinah, No. 3 Course; Sept. 28-30; Medinah, Ill.