ATLANTA (Reuters) - Playing consistently good tournament golf has allowed “worn down” Jim Furyk to cut back on his practice time in a bid to conserve mental energy during the most hectic stretch of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season.
In Thursday’s opening round of the Tour Championship finale at East Lake Golf Club, Furyk will tee off in his eighth event in a dizzy nine-week run on the U.S. circuit and readily admits that he is feeling a little fatigued.
“I did take a month off before coming into this stretch,” the 44-year-old American told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for the fourth and final FedExCup playoff event. “But I’m definitely a little tired. I’m a little worn down.
“I have been playing well, and because of that I’ve limited the amount of practice, I’ve limited the amount of practice rounds, played a lot of nine holes ... not for physical fatigue but more mental.
“You spend so much time with the game you get tired, worn down, and you make silly mistakes. I’ve been trying to keep those at a minimum and just play,” said Furyk, who is seventh in the FedExCup standings heading into this week’s 29-man event.
Asked if he had suffered from any mental lapses out on the course due to fatigue in recent weeks, Furyk replied: “It’s more the ‘being away from home’. I’ve been on the road now eight out of nine weeks.
“I haven’t seen my bed very often. I went home for two days after Denver (venue for last week’s BMW Championship) just to kind of get away a little bit so I could come today (to East Lake) and prepare.”
Furyk’s hectic nine-week stretch has spanned some of the biggest golfing events of the year, with the British Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship among them.
The four-event FedExCup playoffs, which conclude this week at East Lake, are also elite tournaments that offer lucrative pickings and this year they have been staged back-to-back, which has not been popular with the players.
Previous FedExCup schedules have included a week’s break before the Tour Championship or after the first two events, which is the plan for the 2014-15 PGA Tour season. Not so this year with the Ryder Cup taking place from Sept. 26-28.
“Four in a row doesn’t really work,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said earlier this week. “So we understand that. We didn’t like it this year. We’re not going to do it going forward. So that’s that.”
Asked which FedExCup format he preferred, Furyk replied: “Looking at last year, I actually now probably prefer the two (weeks on), one (off) and two (on). The four in a row I don’t think anyone prefers.
“But the two-one-two is a nice format especially because of the Monday finish at the Deutsche Bank (Championship, the second playoff event).
“It really takes a lot of pressure off the BMW. And I think it makes that event, makes getting to the BMW and being fresh a lot easier than coming straight here.”
Though Furyk has not won on the 2013-14 PGA Tour, he has been extraordinarily consistent, piling up 10 top-10s in 20 starts, including three runner-up spots, without missing a cut.
“I’ve been playing well this year,” said the veteran American, who won the most recent of his 16 PGA Tour titles at the 2010 Tour Championship when he also landed FedExCup playoff honors.
“I would like to continue to kind of stay on the roll that I’ve been on, continue trying to do the same things. I love the golf course. I always have. It’s a little different this year.
“It’s very wet, and the golf course is playing as soft and as long as I’ve seen it in a long time. But it’s in great shape. The greens are perfect. I would expect scoring to be pretty good unless we get some rough weather.”
Editing by Frank Pingue