Jim Furyk battled his heart out in the final round of the Memorial Tournament, loved the way he hit the ball, took pride in how aggressively he played, birdied the last hole for a 69 and a closing score of 11-under . . . and got second.
"Tiger's Tiger," he said yesterday.
Tiger Woods demonstrated he is rounding into peak form for the U.S. Open starting next week at Bethpage Black on Long Island, N.Y. He birdied the last two holes Sunday for a 65 to win by 1 stroke over Furyk and put to rest any theory that he is no longer his old dominating self.
"His old self, his new self - I don't think any of us really as players ever doubted it," Furyk said before teeing off with fellow PGA Tour players Anthony Kim, Paul Casey and Kenny Perry in the Exelon Invitational at the ACE Club in Lafayette Hill.
"You expect him to do great things. When he doesn't, it kind of gives you [reporters] some ammunition. I said [Sunday] when I finished my round, 'I wish you all would quit [ticking] him off so he wouldn't do that anymore.' But it didn't work out that way."
Woods, who underwent reconstructive knee surgery last year, chipped in for eagle at the 11th and birdied three of his last four holes, including an incredible approach to the 18th that rolled to within a foot of the cup. Furyk was close the whole way, and at one point was part of a tie with Woods, Davis Love III, and Jonathan Byrd at 10-under.
"It was a crowded leader board for a while," Furyk said. "He's the guy that seems to pull it out. So it is what it is. He's done it to a lot of people throughout the years. I played hard. I played very aggressive, and I hit a lot of good shots."
Furyk is pleased with the state of his game entering the U.S. Open. Sunday's 69 marked his 10th consecutive sub-par round and his 14th in the last 16.
Since missing the cut at the Verizon Heritage, Furyk has finished tied for 11th at Quail Hollow, tied for fifth at the Players Championship, tied for ninth at Colonial, and second Sunday.
"I played well the last couple of weeks," he said. "I had a chance to win yesterday. So I feel good about my game, pretty confident with it. I'll try to keep a good roll going."
Furyk hopes to redeem himself at Bethpage Black, where he missed the cut at the 2002 U.S. Open, the year before he won it all at Olympia Fields in suburban Chicago.
"The setup of the course in '02 was definitely not good for my game," he said. "Of all the U.S. Opens I played, it probably presented the most problems for me. Length was part of it, but the [bad] weather had to factor into it.
"I'm expecting a different setup this time, and hopefully it will be a little more suited for my game."
Furyk also disclosed that yesterday's 11th edition of the Exelon Invitational would be the last, although the possibility exists that the event could be restarted after Woods' AT&T Invitational has its two-year run at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square in 2010 and 2011.
"We've had an extremely long run," Furyk said. "This is our 11th year with the same title sponsor. I don't know how many events on tour have had the same title sponsor for 11 years, but I guarantee you it's less than a handful."
Event officials said $200,000 was raised this year, making the overall donation $1.7 million for the 11 years. Furyk said he and Exelon intend to continue to make a financial donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, the main charity.
Notes. Sparked by Kim's hole in one at the 212-yard 14th hole, the team of Furyk and Kim defeated the team of Casey and Perry, 3 and 2, in the four-ball match for a purse of $305,000.